Striving for unity

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10).  It was near the end of his 3rd missionary journey, approximately seven years after he and his companions founded the church (Acts 18), that Paul wrote this letter to them – a church that was in a fair amount of trouble. Corinth was the main land route from the East to the West, where several sea routes converged, but it was also known for its utterly pagan society.  Although Paul begins the letter on a positive note, it does not take him long before he plunges into an analysis of their wrongdoings.

1st Corinthians is one of Paul’s most reasoned epistles, and with careful reading, one can follow his line of thinking accurately.  Paul’s analysis and conclusion with the Corinthian church could just as easily be applied to many churches today.  He begins with division in the church (1-4), discipline (5-6), marriage and divorce (7), doctrinal disputes (8-10), and misunderstanding spiritual gifts, among other things like incorrect worship services regarding things like The Lord’s Supper, the role of women and the resurrection.  Paul is beginning a discussion on the division of the church and wants them to know that it is not proper as Christians to have the type of attitude that is not united.  He says they should be “in the same mind,” which relays for us the importance of being that way for church unity and, subsequently, contentment.

 

Today, the lesson is equally important in the church as divisions seem to plague many US and world congregations.  With over 300 denominations in America alone and many more hundreds around the world, the is a complete lack of being the “same mind and the same judgment.”  The Bible is read with a presupposed conclusion, and therefore the exact meaning is lost in translation, or more accurately, interpretation.  To be unified, in one mind, and with the same judgment, we need to allow the word to speak to us and not shout over the term.  If you look at the state of the Corinthian church with all that was going on (or not going on), you can see that even from the beginning, men were coming in with their versions of what should or should not be happening.

This was not the only letter that spoke to the issue of unity.  A similar call for unity is expressed in Ephesians, while In Galatians, a warning is proclaimed to those who would twist the word of God – Galatians 1:8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”  You see, it is many times the fault of preachers and teachers who mislead their congregations for their enrichment or power.

The best we can do is check all the time – Check what the preacher has said (Acts 17:11) and test the spirits to see whether they are from God (1 John 4:1).  No one is immune to making mistakes, but when the “errors” are intentional, we need to find another place where God’s truth is preached as delivered and not from man’s limited reasoning.

 

 

 

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