Paul here reminds us of the unity that should exist between Christians and between Christian communities, a unity based on our common call “to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.”
Our relationship with Jesus is to be the foundation of our identity, calling us to love in a way that is not limited by divisions of social class, nationality, race, denomination, or gender. Picture diverse Christian communities all over the world hearing the call in different ways: a trumpet call, a church bell, a Protestant “call to worship,” a stirring sermon, the sight of an icon, the smell of incense, a friend’s greeting, a moment of stillness, the coolness of water at the entrance to the church . . . and responding in their own ways “to be saints,” remembering Jesus’ saying that being in the kingdom means not “saying Lord, Lord” but doing “the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Paul also reminds his readers that the unity of the group is not to be based on identification with human leaders, even those as great as Paul, Peter, and Apollos.
Paul urges Christians to find their identity in the one Spirit that underlies their community, the God who has called them (like Joseph in today’s reading from Genesis) out of their ordinary identification with family and community into a larger vision of the world, the fellowship of Jesus Christ. And this fellowship is under the sign of the cross—not the statue of Caesar, but the criminal’s gallows that shows that at our lowest moments, when human existence seems dominated by sin, violence, and weakness, God is one with us, God is seeking us out.