There’s not only trouble in River City. It’s in our modern church, reflecting the same scandal Paul addressed in Corinth. He was distressed about many problems among Christians there, but his biggest headache was their squabbles, dissensions and divisions.
In 1 Corinthians 1: 10 he meets it head on. ”I’ll put it to you as urgently as I can. You must get along with each other” (The Message). “I plead with you to agree with one another, that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. (NIV) Doctrinal disputes are the primary cause for dividing Christians since the third century. Look, we don’t have to agree on everything to be in agreement.
“Hey, what’s the big deal? Where’s the harm in a little debate? We do it all the time.” Yes, and as a result we a) bring dishonor to our Lord b) undermine our mission, c) violate the Spirit of the Gospel; d) grieve the Holy Spirit and e) hinder God’s purposes.
Disunity brings dishonor to Christ. The need for Church unity didn’t begin with Paul. Jesus initiated it in his command, repeated four times, for us to love one another that the world may know we are His disciples. (John 13: 34, 35) He echoed that intention a few hours later, pleading with the Father three times for us to be one that the world might believe. (John 17:21,22)
Disunity undermines our mission. There is nothing that hinders the mission of the church as much as our schisms, disagreements and disputes. The first church grew explosively in large part because “they were in one accord” and “they had the favor of all the people.“ The secular world today has lost almost all respect for us. Consider that in years past, businesses gave discounts to churches and clergy, but no more. This says more about us than society.
Disunity violates the spirit of the Gospel. What is the Gospel?—reconciliation with God. How can we preach peace with God, if we have so much unrest among ourselves? It’s tantamount to the government wanting its citizens to be fiscally responsible while spending beyond its means. .
Disunity grieves God’s Spirit. In Ephesians 4: 29-32 Paul lists things that grieve the Holy Spirit: unwholesome talk that hinders mutual edification, bitterness, anger, quarreling, slander, malice. These create friction in the body and breeds disunity. On the other hand be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” (NIV) That is the quality that causes God to take pleasure in us and creates unity in His body.
Disunity hinders God’s purpose. God’s intention is that His church be “one body.” Therefore we are told to make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. (Eph 4:3,4 NLT) And Together, we are his house….We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. (Eph 2:20, 21 NLT)
We pray for and urge His church, particularly leaders, to recognize this problem, cultivate more mutual care and community within their fellowships and more cooperation with other fellowships. This would help earn the kind of friendly public relations Jesus knew we needed to reach our neighbors. Otherwise they will continue to either ignore or look down on Christians and Christianity. The world’s only gospel is us, as Paul taught. We are epistles known and read of all men. God grant our lives would demonstrate both his grace and truth.. .