Thursday, January 23, 2014

The wordless wisdom of unity

Singers in church sharing hymn book
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

TO CHEW ON: "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." 1 Corinthians 1:10

If there's one thing our society is not, it's united. Listen to any open line talk show and you will hear a variety of points of view on most subjects. Perhaps it's our democratic outlook that makes us value individualism along with knowing and speaking our own minds. And so Paul's plea for unity: "Speak the same thing … no divisions … perfectly joined together" seems impossible—even undesirable—to us.

Yet Paul wasn't the only one with the ideal of unity in mind for people of faith. It was Jesus' idea in the first place. He talked about "'one flock and one shepherd'" (John 10:16) and pleaded in prayer for oneness among His disciples: "'… that they may all be one, as You Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that You sent Me'" (John 17:21).

The persuasive apologetic of unity may be what Paul is referring to in the last verse of our reading when he says: "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words…" What other wisdom would preach and convince?  Perhaps the wisdom of lifestyle—like a body of people supernaturally united in love?

Maintaining unity is work though, otherwise why would Paul have had to "plead" with them to be united? It might be even more work for us individualists.

  • It may mean keeping silent when issues come up that would divide us, especially issues non-essential to salvation - Galatians 3:28.
  • It means body-part-like cooperation instead of competition - 1 Corinthians 12:12.
  • It means, above all things, other-centred love - 1 Peter 3:8.

I ask myself, is my church community a persuasive wisdom-without-words apologetic for the gospel? Is yours? What are you and I doing to make it more so?

PRAYER: Dear God, so often I lose sight of Your ideal of unity as I glory in my own opinions and rightness. Help me to catch Your vision of a united body of believers. Amen.

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New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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