1 Corinthians 1:10 (NLT) I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
As I read those words, Paul’s plead with the church to live in harmony, to have no divisions. I found myself grieved. His heart was for the church to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. When we look at the church today and compare it to those words I can’t help but cry out, “Oh God, what have we done?” We are far from united.
A quick google search indicates that there are over 1200 Christian denominations worldwide and I don’t find it too difficult to believe that. Even if that is false and there were only 30 denominations, would that make it better? It depends. Differing denominations don’t necessarily mean division, but many times it does. Certainly, the origin of many denominations was a disagreement so sharp that it was decided we can’t be associated with you anymore and thus disagreement turned to division.
Another verse that grieves me is 1 Corinthians 4:20.
1 Corinthians 4:20 (NLT) For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.
I suppose this verse should be exciting. Yes! The Kingdom God is living by God’s power, except that when I look at the average church I don’t see power. In fact, I see a lot of talk which indicates to me that we are not effectively building the Kingdom of God so much as, well, buildings.
I believe that the reason is, in part, a lack of unity across the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:30 (NLT) God has united you with Christ Jesus…
1 Corinthians 3:6-8 (NLT) I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work
We are meant to united with God and each other. Working together to be the body of Christ and accomplish the purpose of Christ. We work TOGETHER to accomplish the purpose of God. Yes, only God can produce the fruit, but if we fail to do our part and instead engage in arguments and divisions we effectively halt the mission of God.
1 Corinthians 3:16 (NLT) Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you.
We together are the temple and His Spirit lives in us. This is another scripture that I have often heard individualized. While I do believe Christ lives in me, it’s important to recognize that I alone am not the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) and cannot function effectively to fulfill God’s purpose by myself. When we come together in unity His Spirit takes up residence. When we come together in unity God’s power is unleashed in our very lives.
It’s time for some self evaluation. Where do you see disunity and division in your local community? Start with yourself, your circle, and move outward. How can you help bring wholeness to divisions? God’s purposes and Spirit are more important than our disagreements. We must come together and disagree well.
More on that in Thursday’s post.