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
I was recently followed on Twitter by a religious entity which, when I checked into it, appeared to be a cult. On their website was a video where people—all the same race and dressed alike except for the color of their clothes—were seated at desks placed in perfectly straight and parallel rows, smiling robotically as they read their Bibles.
I don’t think this is the kind of unity Paul is talking about here. In fact, in another place in this very letter he acknowledges differences among Christians:
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
There are differences of ministries but the same Lord.
And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.” - 1 Corinthians 12:4,5,6 (emphasis added).
Later in 1 Corinthians 12 he uses an easy-to-understand metaphor for the church, comparing it to the human body (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). We know how that only works well when all its diverse members work together.
So what kind of unity is Paul taking about here when he says they should be: “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment”?
I appreciate the application Leslyn Musch suggests for this verse:
“Intentionally pursue unity within the body of Christ. Do not give place to divisions or competition. Honor others, seek to be like-minded and recognize Jesus as the common ground for unity” - Leslyn Musch, "Truth-In-Action-Through 1 Corinthians," New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, 1607 (emphasis in the original).
Notice the verbs Musch uses, reminding us that this unity doesn’t just happen but is intentional and takes effort. We need to to “pursue” unity. We refuse to (“do not”) entertain thoughts of division and competition. We “honor” others, try (“seek”) to understand them, and in it all “recognize” Jesus as the basis for our unity. Of course if His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, lives in each one of us, we have a synchronized inner guide that should cause us to be consistently united. Why it doesn’t always work out that way is a topic for another time.
PRAYER: Dear Father, help me to put this pursuit of unity into practice in my life—at home, at church, and as a member and representative of the church to the secular world around me. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.