One of my first memories of elementary school was being picked for dodgeball teams at recess or in gym class. I was lucky if I was picked before being the last one standing there feeling unwanted. (Not pleasant or good for my self-esteem, but somebody must be last!) How did they know I was lousy at sports and afraid of my own shadow?
I learned at that early age that there were divisions in the world. People were always being categorized one way or another. They were athletic or clumsy, smart or dumb, musical or seemingly tone deaf, rich or poor, etc. We could come up with labels all day long. Labels may be just words, but they also cause division and disunity.
When division happens in the church among fellow believers it can be painful. Excruciatingly painful! I suppose I come at this idea of division from a different perspective than most church goers. I am married to a pastor. I have had a front row seat to so many dramas I wanted to avoid but was stuck in the middle of. I only want what God desires for his people, unity.
The older I get, the more I realize this may be what God desires or even intends for us, but we are just too stubborn or something to ever be unified. When heaven and earth fall away and the kingdom of God is truly revealed in all its splendor, then I’m confident we will see, feel, and be able to almost touch what unity feels like.
This reading is early on in Paul’s letter, so we know it’s a pressing issue for the Corinthian church, too. Paul said, “be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” That sounds like it should be easy enough, doesn’t it? Everybody else just needs to agree with me and my way of thinking. Right? Isn’t that how we approach what happens in our church fellowships?
The truth is, God made us all different. Various opinions are thereby likely to exist and surface. But even when our minds think a certain way, we need to be mindful in controlling our thoughts to be in agreement with Jesus. That’s on us, our responsibility. When we are united in our mission for Jesus, there will be less division between the people.
There’s some good stuff in Paul’s counsel to the Corinthians. How can you apply some of these lessons to your own life? Do you see a division happening in your church or other community you are part of? Pray for God to show you the best way to make a difference for Christian unity.
Let’s pray …
Father God, your heart must break for how your people bicker and fight, letting division happen in churches and communities everywhere. I know firsthand the deep wounds that result when we focus on the wrong thing and forget about Jesus’ power. Forgive me for times when I have been involved in unhealthy patterns that keep me separated from you. Cleanse my heart. In Jesus’ name. Amen.