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.
Our Verse of the Day focuses on the necessity of unity within the faith and the Church. As we read in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul makes this appeal for unity to the brothers and sisters there. I have provided additional context regarding the concerns there for your reference:
1 Corinthians 1:10-13 (ESV)
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, 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. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
As we apply this to our modern-day culture and experience, we can see similar patterns within the universal Church … and in particular … the American church. So much of what divides the Body are the theological differences espoused by various denominational “leaders” which often steer people to “follow the leader” rather than the Head of the Church – which is Christ Jesus. While faith is a personal matter, and each of us have our own individual theology, there is still a call for unity. The Apostle Peter and Paul did not always agree on doctrinal matters, but they were still united in their love for the Lord Jesus and in the work of the Gospel:
Galatians 2:11-16 (NIV)
But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing those of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the Gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles; know that a person is not justified (counted righteous) by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. So, we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
2 Peter 3:10-18 (NIV)
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you eagerly look forward to the day of God to come. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
The problem with following people or cultural changes instead of growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” is that we can become divided over “worldly wisdom” or “human rules”. Jesus spoke to this issue as recorded in both Matthew and Mark … where He quotes the Prophet Isaiah to affirm His teaching:
Matthew 15:1-9 (NIV) See Also Mark 7:5-13
Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ (Cf. Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16) and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ (Cf. Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9) But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus, you nullify the Word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” (Cf. Isaiah 29:13)
So, yes, I think it is important for us to consider these concerns in light of our call to the unity of faith. The early apostles encountered these same issues and warned of divisions as the post-Resurrection, post-Pentecost Church was being formed along with its subsequent evangelism emerging to fulfill the Great Commission. This concern for unity of faith is so important that we find other apostles including the message in their writings to various assemblies of believers. Consider the Letter of Jude:
Jude 1:3-4 (NIV)
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
Jude 1:16-19 (NIV)
These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
My friends, these are some thoughts and Scriptures that came to mind as I mediated on the verse. Unity within the Body of Christ is essential if we are to be productive and effective in sharing the Gospel and winning souls for the Kingdom of God. The Apostles knew this was critical to the Gospel and its power to save. And they warned us in their writings to be aware of the pitfalls caused by those who would cause divisions. As Paul exhorted: “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.” (Cf. Philippians 3:18-19) Indeed, I pray the Church will always seek unity of spirit and mind; be centered upon Christ Jesus and Him alone; and be joined in heart for the purpose of His commission and glory!
So Now You Know…
Have a Blessed Day!
I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery, they deceive the minds of naive people. ~ Romans: 16:17-18