1 Corinthians 1:10 (NIV)
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.
Paul had to deal with matters of division within the church at Corinth; and it is one of the first issues that he addresses in his epistle to the Corinthian believer. I read the entire chapter to find context for our verse, and I found the broader theme of Christian living and relationship building presented. Paul opens his letter with enduring words for these recipients of his apostolic writing; and for all believers everywhere who have responded to the Gospel message. Paul continues … expressing thanksgiving for believers and for the grace they have received through Christ Jesus; and then he assures them of the faithfulness of God to preserve them in fellowship with His Son – Jesus Christ our Lord. His message is one of great encouragement not only for believers in the First Century, but also for us in this current generation.
1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (NIV)
1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be His holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I always thank my God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in Him (Jesus) you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
I could mediate forever on the faithfulness of God … how He will keep me “firm to the end”. Notice that it is work of God that accomplishes this result … this outcome … “to stand without fault on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That day is coming soon as we can surmise from all that is happening in the world around us. That God is faithful is a recurrent theme of Scripture:
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong; upright and just is He. (Deuteronomy 32:4)
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. (Psalm 57:10)
I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, Holy One of Israel. (Psalm 71:22)
Who is like You, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and Your faithfulness surrounds You. (Psalm 89:8)
Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for He has given you the autumn rains because He is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. (Joel 2:23)
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Oh, indeed, we serve a faithful God! We should join with the Apostle Jude in his benediction: “Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without fault in the presence of His glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25) God is faithful to those who believe and trust in Jesus … the One whom the Father sent. And it is important for us to cultivate and grow our faith in Him. For Jesus is the Head of His Body – the Church! It is in Him we are united! It is in Jesus, our most faithful High Priest, that we find redemption and resurrection … reconciliation and restoration. It is His work in us that bring us together … to unite us in thought and faith! This is why Paul exhorts believers to not allow divisions among ourselves.
1 Corinthians 1:10-17 (NIV)
10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
The point Paul is making here is that leaders appointed by Christ to serve His church should not be the focus of attention; rather, they should be recognized as servants to His church. Yes, we are to submit to those in authority over us in the church. Yes, we are to follow their example of faith and righteousness. But the purpose of this “submission” is to train and facilitate the same mindset toward Christ our Lord and Savior! The role of the church is to serve one another in love … and through unity to become a mature, vibrant outreach to unbelievers. Paul explains this purpose in further detail in his Letter to the Ephesians:
Ephesians 4:11-16 (NIV)
11 So Christ Himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
The Preeminent One of the Church is Christ Jesus Himself! Those appointed to serve the church and to equip believers for works of service are ordained by Him specifically to bring unity in the faith and in the knowledge of Jesus. Their role is to facilitate maturity so that each believer (each part) does its work. The key concepts here are maturity and unity. Any believer who places a church leader above Christ Jesus (the Head) has misplaced “allegiance” for sure. Further, anyone appointed by Him to serve in offices of leadership to the church should serve in all humility … not arrogant in spirit … not boastful or puffed up … and not to be seen and praised by people. Even the angels who minister to us will not allow us to worship or pay homage to them! (Cf. Revelation 19:10; 22:9)
Remember that to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. And for everyone to whom much is given (entrusted), much will be asked and required. (Cf. Luke 12:48) The Five-Fold ministry leaders have been ordained to serve in a manner that equips and facilitates believers to worship Jesus Christ … not to promote themselves. In Ephesians 4:1-6, Paul admonished, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” To be sure, there is only one Lord and one Faith … one God and Father of all! It is all about Him!
For unity to be effectuated in the church, the command to have a humble spirit cannot be dismissed at all. ALL have turned aside; they have together become corrupt. There is none who does good; No, not one. (Psalm 14:3; Psalm 53:3; Romans 3:12) For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Cf. Romans 3:23) All people are subject to the same judgment which came from one offense and resulted in condemnation. (Cf. Romans 5:12-16) In fact, all that we have in Christ: all mercy and grace … all wisdom and knowledge … all favor and blessing … redemption and forgiveness … light and life … ALL have been given to us through Christ Jesus. Paul challenged, “Think of what you were when you were called.” Think of it! Recall the moment you were called … when you surrendered your rebellious heart to the Spirit of God … when you encountered Jesus and came to faith in Him … the moment you were born again through the power of God.… Think of what you were … who you were…. It should humble you deeply….
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (NIV)
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before Him. 30 It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
But, “Let the one who boasts … boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on the earth; for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. (Cf. Jeremiah 9:24) Yes, we ought to humble ourselves because God chose you and I to believe in the One whom He sent! God chose you and I for redemption … for salvation in Christ. It is because of Him that we are in Christ Jesus! Jesus said, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of all those He has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” (Cf. John 6:39) How amazing is that knowledge … that promise? Oh, it gets better! “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (Cf. John 10:29) And, “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.” (Cf. John 17:9) Finally, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (Cf. John 17:24) Oh, our God is faithful to us because He chose us … He gave us to Jesus! Let this Scripture be embedded in our hearts:
Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV)
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
No one can boast! No sinner made saint in Christ can boast in anyone or anything except HIM…. We humble ourselves through the obedience of faith; and we take our place in His Body as He has appointed us … according to the grace He has apportioned to us. And the anointing given to each one of us (as determined by the Holy Spirit) is for the edification of the church not for ourselves as individual parts. As Paul explained:
1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (NIV)
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as He determines.
Our Verse of the Day addresses the need for unity within the church … peace and single-minded among believers who form the body of Christ. There should be no divisions … no one who elevates another believer above Jesus, the Head of the Church. In Christ Jesus, there no denominations … no denominators or divisors! Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. Oneness can only be realized in Christ. So let us be open to the personal expression of grace given to each believer. Let us embrace and encourage the work of each member (part) to serve and glorify our King. The diversity of the Spirit we have received was given for the common good. As long as we seek the common good and the bonds of peace … we will be seeking the unity of the Spirit. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Cf. Galatians 5:13) “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (Cf. Romans 15:2) “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Cf. Psalm 133:1)