Scripture Reading: 1 Chronicles 16:37-18:17 / 1 Corinthians 1:1-17 / Prov. 19:3-12
“Why can’t we just get along?” Spouses, parents, employees and churches have asked this despairing question. There is nothing more disheartening and defeating than a spirit of division. Sometimes differences and disunity lead to deep areas of bitterness unforgiveness and separation.
The war of division (to “tear or rend”) has claimed many families, marriages, businesses and churches. Paul recognized the vulnerable position the Corinthian church was in. Even though they flourished in spiritual gifts, they lacked spiritual unity. A spirit of pride, self-righteousness and judgment ruled their lives.
They had the same spirit as the old, contentious Quaker who went from one meeting to another, never finding the true church. When someone asked what church he was presently attending, he said, “I am in the true church at last.” He was then asked how many people belonged to this true church and he responded, “Just my wife and myself, and I am not sure about her sometimes.”
That humorous story has a sad reality behind it…a spirit of division leads to loneliness and spiritual vulnerability. The Corinthians claimed their allegiances and aligned themselves to the teachings of Paul, Peter, Apollos or Jesus. They became spiritually arrogant, following their own doctrinal preferences while ignoring the whole counsel of God.
Paul appeals to them, “Brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” (1 Cor. 1:10) Unity is a decision that we make to surrender our hardline judgment and seek Christ’s perspective. As Christ became a servant, we must also lay down our status/desires to serve a greater cause…others and the Kingdom of God.
We cannot afford to confuse the nonessential with the essential. Paul is not asking us to accept doctrinal error and heresy. We can still have our preferences and likes/dislikes. Paul is not calling us to uniformity (everyone looking and sounding alike) but to unity (a Christ like mind, heart and spirit). Let not our differences lead us to quarrels, cliques or division…but to acceptance, appreciation and unity!