1 Corinthians 1:1-17 from the daily reading (8/4/17) in the One Year Bible
1 Corinthians 1:1-17 from the daily reading (8/4/17) in the One Year Bible
Appeal to Unity
1 Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. 12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. 16 Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.
Within the church and certainly from outside the church there is a lot of criticism regarding how we in the church should relate to the world. The world calls Christians hypocrites because we do not share the same love and acceptance that Jesus Himself showed to the world. Within the church there are those who say we must include, accept and tolerate everyone and those who will not welcome those in sin into the church. I’ve shared my thoughts on this many times, basically, like Jesus, I think it is imperative that we do reach out to sinners and outcast. But also like Jesus, we should not accept, tolerate, embrace or condone sin. Jesus message from the beginning was repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17) He came to the aid of the woman caught in adultery, not condemning her, but telling her go and sin no more. (John 8:11)
We should not expect that the world will be satisfied with the way we view sin. In John 3:19 Jesus says: “Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” In John 15:18-22 Jesus says: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.” Within the church though there is perhaps an even greater issue, than how the world feels about us. There is something we must do before we can effectively reach the world for Christ. In today’s text Paul says: Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? The number of divisions that exist with the church is almost countless. We are Catholics and Protestants. We are Orthodox and Reformed. We are Baptists and Anabaptists, Evangelicals, Charismatics, Pentecostals, Fundamentalists and on and on. Even within individual churches, there are factions, divisions and church splits. Indeed, Jesus commands us to love our neighbor and even our enemies, but in John 13:34-35 He says: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” How can we expect that the world will receive the message of the gospel if we, Christ’s disciples, are indistinguishable from the world because of our many divisions.
In Matthew 12:25 Jesus says: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” It is no wonder that the church struggles to grow; divided against itself it cannot even stand. 1 John 4:19-21 says: We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. How can we love God if we are divided from others in whom the Spirit of God resides? Beyond hindering our testimony to the world, Galatians 5:19-21 says: Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Divisions, disputes, dissensions and factions have the same consequences as immorality, impurity, sensuality and idolatry for those who practice them, namely that they will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Certainly it is okay that we have different preferences in music, worship styles, the way we dress, the type of building we gather in, the kind of seats we sit in. It’s even okay that we have some differences in doctrine. We though, are called to be a community of believers. Community is derived from the combination of the words common and unity. If we will have the unity that Jesus desires that we have, we must be bound by what we have in common, the Spirit of God in us and the cross of Christ for us. As Paul says, what is important is that we all are called: to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. In 1 Corinthians 2:2 Paul says: For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit forgive the sin of Your people, Your church. Forgive us that we would allow preferences to divide us and so to hinder the message of the gospel. May Your church lay aside the sin which binds us. May we become unified in Your love and through the demonstration of Your love, the cross of Christ. Amen.