Today’s reading are Nehemiah 3 and 1 Cor.1:10-31.
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, 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).
No matter what is said after this, this is one powerful opening. It is a strong appeal from the Apostle Paul to a church that is experiencing division. There is much at stake. Today’s church would also do well to heed such a word. Disunity remains one of the top ten scandals that compromises Christian witness today. In John 17, Jesus prayed that his disciples might be united as unity bore testimony to the fact that the Father sent the son. In Galatians 3:28 and Ephesians 3:6, Paul continued to call for unity in spite of some of the greatest sociological divisions faced in the middle East. Jews vs Gentile, slave versus free, men versus women.
Too often we want our point to be made, heard and agreed to. I often wonder to what end? For what purposes? Do the divisions, the debates and the disputes bring glory to God? My experience in these areas is a simple no. Or rarely. In 1 Cor.1, Paul is so pleased that he did not baptise anyone involved in the disputes (v13-14). He asks that most powerful question, “Is Christ divided?” The expected answer is no. The witness of a united Church is an incredible powerful witness (Eph 3:9-10). Disunity, highlights that old thought that you can be right and wrong at the same time. It is the same in relationships, it is certainly true of marriage and it is true of the church. We are called to have a visible witness. Disunity destroys that.
Over the years I am not convinced that we have learnt about how to argue well, how to forgive easily and how to accept the points of views of others. As I look at my own life I can too often see my own failings in this area. May God give me strength.
Later on in this letter Paul will address, factions, incest, lawsuits and sexual immorality. He avoided taking sides on issues as his goal was harmony. I doubt very much he was seeking christian clones who agreed on everything. But his desire which should be our desire, was for co-operation, edification in love and ability to learn to agree to disagree agreeably. This is so important for us today in light of the advances in technology which allows others to read my thoughts. However, arguments on Facebook, in my humble opinion, will rarely bring glory to God.
To ponder…Why do you think unity provides such a powerful witness for the work of the gospel?
Imagine if we sought this more and more! The world would truly stand up and take notice.