The Bible shows that throughout human history there have always been conflicts. Adam blamed Eve for causing the first sin (Gen. 3:12); the first set of brothers had a conflict that resulted in murder (Gen. 4:8). What brought about God’s judgment of the flood was the fact that the earth was filled with violence (Gen. 6:11). The herdsmen of Abram and Lot had conflict (Gen. 13:7). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had many family conflicts. The rest of Old Testament history is filled with wars among nations and conflicts between individuals, and the New Testament is no different in this regard.
In examining 1 Corinthians, it seems there are are three classes of people in the world who vary in their understanding and ability to have peace. The first class is unbelievers, who because they have no peace with God render the prospect of peace with others implausible. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 lists the various people in unbelief with the sins that characterize their lives: fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners. Among these would be the princes of the world, who did not know God’s wisdom and because of the blindness of their sin crucified the Lord (1 Cor. 2:8). The second class would be worldly believers. This was the main problem that Paul was confronting in this letter to Corinth. In 1 Cor. 3:1-3, Paul pointed out their immaturity, writing, “…ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” Thus even though all of the members of the church at Corinth had obeyed the Gospel, many of them had not grown spiritually and were still acting worldly, with envying and strife among them. These were those who were taking each other to court over “the smallest matters” (1 Cor. 6:2). To them Paul wrote, “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men” (1 Cor. 14:20). The third class would be spiritual people who not only had a good understanding of Christianity, but also let it control their thinking and actions in regard to others. One example of this class is the house of Stephanas who “addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (1 Cor. 16:15). Paul is a great example of a spiritual person, who encouraged the Corinthian brethren to follow him as he followed Christ (1 Cor. 11:1), who sent Timothy to remind them of his ways in Christ (1 Cor. 4:17). Paul worked tirelessly to bring peace to the Lord’s church based on all uniting on following Christ.
Which of these three groups would you be placed into? Do you thrive on conflict? Have you made peace with God and others by obeying Christ and being added to the church (Eph. 2:14-16)? Romans 12:18 urges Christians, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” While this implies that there are some people in the world with whom it is not possible to have peace, it shows that Christians are to be amiable people. Paul commanded the Thessalonian brethren to, “be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thess. 5:13). Though it may be impossible to have peace with certain individuals in the world, it is expected by God for peace to exist in His church.