I have the humbling experience of teaching Sunday school whenever there is a fifth Sunday. It is for our Women’s Sunday School Class. I love to teach, I love to desperately seek God and what He will have me share. This particular lesson was extremely hard to write. I sought my expositor of the lesson, The book, Jesus the King, by Tim Keller, several articles & most importantly God & His word.
As I look on our own broken family, I experience first hand how deeply it breaks a parent’s heart for her family to be so broken. We wonder will things ever get resolved. In all that pain, a deeper reality sets in.. This is a reality in our churches and the world suffers because of it. God forgive us!
1 Corinthians 1:10: Now I beseech you brethren, by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
The church of Corinth was seriously troubled, just like our churches today. The churches were infested with sexual immorality, split by factions, crippled by abuse of spiritual gifts. The true believers had a lot of growing up to do. They had to stop following the immoral, selfish & contentious ways of their neighbors. Today we are also greatly affected by the culture around us.
We see in this letter that Paul is begging the church to be united. He is charging them not by his authority but in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is our Lord, our King .. The One’s whose blood unities us.
James 4:1-4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.4 You adulterous people,[a] don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God
1 Peter 3:8-12 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.11 They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil
Paul begs them to ALL speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you. The church’s message is the Gospel. The word “Gospel” means “news that brings joy”. What is this new that brings joy? That you do not need to earn your way to God; Jesus has already done it for you. And it’s a gift of unmerited favor. In the gospel message, Jesus says Come, follow me. Jesus is saying follow me because I am THE KING you are looking for. Follow me because I am authority over everything. Because I died on the cross for you.. Because I am your true love, your true life.. The plea for no divisions is because Jesus is not divided. He alone is our head. There is only unity to Him in the gospel message.
He is calling them to speak the same thing, come together in the same mind and in the same judgment. We, the church, are the living breathing representation of Christ. Christian means little Christ. Christ was 100% united to His Father & His Father’s Will. We, who are in Christ, are united to Him by His blood. We are to represent Him & share His “news that brings joy” His gospel!
Please do not misunderstand Unity is NOT uniformity For 1700 years the Western Church has been plagued with a problem. We tend to confuse the command of unity and replace it with a desire for uniformity. The concept moves something like this: “God commands us to unity, so we all have to look alike. If someone doesn’t look like me, then they are not unified with me.” Unfortunately, this falls well short of what Scripture says unity is.
We are called to a diverse unity. In other words, we are not going to look alike, do the same things, have the same culture, like the same things, but we are called to function together as one body around the person of Jesus Christ who is Truth.
All over the world you can find people getting excited about diversity. But the gospel gives us a distinctly Christian affection for diversity.
It is in the gospel that we see people as made in the image of God, uniquely designed by God, and brothers and sisters in Christ. We know that every person who ever lived is made in God’s image, but for the Christian, there is a new family. My desire is that we would see each other as who we really are—brothers and sisters bought with a price.
I think that as we grab hold of what the gospel does to the discussion of race, it is then that we’ll be motivated and stirred to see church communities reflect the family of God. The family of God is diverse. My prayer is that our local bodies and our personal relationships would be too.
If you and I are going to be passionate about something, let’s be passionate about the gospel which transforms not only this conversation but each other.
Just think of the brilliant glory of God that is refracted through the jewel of Unity. In Diversity as we read about it in verses like Romans 12:5, “so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” There is no “they” in the body of Christ because they are “we.” Our unity in diversity is a reality to embrace—a free gift that belongs to us. But because we are still sinners, unity in diversity is also something that we must work hard to always be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
Biblical unity is not about agreeing with each other all the time. In fact, the more I read about the New Testament church in Paul’s letters, the more I see that disagreement played a fairly significant role in the early church and I believe it still does today. There has always been disagreement in the church. As long as we “see as in a mirror, dimly”, there will be disagreement in the church. That disagreement grows us, stretches us, humbles us, and keeps us accountable. It is a positive thing. It is not something to be feared. It can be an iron sharpens iron.
In that sense, the diversity in the church may well be one of our true strengths. Our ability (or inability) to embrace and manage that diversity will either grow us and move us forward or it will end us). Biblical unity assumes there will be disagreement and insists that we find healthy ways of processing it. It assumes you and I are living in relationships where your understanding of God actually informs, shapes, and changes my understanding of God. We live so as to be intentionally influenced by one another, especially by our differences.
Yes, scripture calls us to be “like-minded” and yes, there is a place for doctrinal purity and truth and a clear sense of right and wrong. Unity doesn’t compromise the truth. It just calls us to a level of humility in our grasp of truth, a healthy understanding of what it.
But despite the value of doctrinal purity and truth, in talking about the church, nowhere does God’s Word call us to uniformity. Nowhere.
Next we see Paul’s concern about contention. Contention means “constant quarreling & wrangling” it’s angry disputes between 2 people. So we can see not only are they not united but they are fighting with one another.
Then within this quarreling as what happens often in arguing.. people are taking sides and ascribing loyalty to different individuals.. We see this today .. but Paul is warning the church here our loyalty is to Christ.
It is again to the continuing discredit of Christianity that there are so many divisions among believers. We seem to be capable of arguing about everything from doctrine to practice. While there are perversions of the Gospel, they MUST be pointed out and avoided. We would be best to mention only what is clearly addressed in scripture and offer grace in the things that are not.
Divisions between Christians work like brick walls and barbed wired fences to undermine the effectiveness of the message that believers proclaim.
Ephesians 4:3-6 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling, One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in all.
I fear we focus too much on those things that divide us rather than the “Gospel, the news that brings joy” And do not be fooled satan is in it all and this world suffers greatly for it.
As we look upon the crumbling of our church is it any wonder we see such decay of values of the world around us. I do believe Paul’s words are to us today just as much as they were all those years ago. I BESEECH you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, that there be no divisions among you, that you been perfectly joined together in the same mind & in the same judgment.
Christ was motivated by love. He loved us & gave Himself up for us. He calls us to love one another. What is love.. God is very author of love and the very model for it. We should read into the lines 1 Corinthians 13: If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.