1CORINTHIANS 1:10-17 (NIV – UK)
A church divided over leaders
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 baptised in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptise any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptised in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptised the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptised anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel – not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
WHO DO YOU FOLLOW?
Verse 10 is the one that shocks us, isn’t it? Paul says there shouldn’t be any divisions, but that instead they should be ‘perfectly united in mind and thought.’ It just seems totally unrealistic doesn’t it? Think of your church – does it seem realistic that everyone will agree on everything? I think we can all agree that not everyone will always agree on every little detail.
But being ‘perfectly united in mind and thought’ is more than just agreeing on whether we serve Earl Grey or PG Tips after the service. The thing we must really be united on is who we are following. The Corinthians don’t seem to be agreeing on who they should follow – some are following Paul, some Apollos, some Cephas (Peter) and some are saying they follow Christ.
Paul’s role is to preach the Gospel (v. 17) – but he didn’t do that so people would follow him – his hope was that they would follow Jesus. Our church leaders, our preachers and our teachers help us by proclaiming Jesus to us. But we aren’t to make them the object – we are to fix our eyes on the one they are pointing to – Jesus. Paul certainly doesn’t want to be a substitute for Jesus in anyones eyes (v. 13-15). No, Paul makes it strikingly clear that the one that all Christians need to follow is Jesus and only Jesus. It is only then that we have a chance of being ‘perfectly united in mind and thought.’ Jesus is the one who unites us all – and the closer we come to him, the more we will know his mind and his thoughts – and if we all share his mind and his thoughts, we will be united indeed.
Question: How do you seek unity in your church?