Apostle Paul opens his letter to the church at Corinth with greetings and thanksgiving. Then he makes his first appeal, for the unity of the brethren in the faith community (1 Cor. 1:10-17).
Divisions in the Church
10 I appeal to you, brothers, 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. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (ESV) (emphasis added)
Can we blame the human need to belong for the destructive group-think in the Lord’s church? Is our need to associate with like-minded people so strong that we will sacrifice the greater cause for unity? Maybe…
On the social media tool called Facebook, there billions of individual, business, church and other pages called profiles. To gather according to interest in online huddles, there are groups. Some are harmless — supporters of causes, forums for a common interest, and forums for special interests that do not merit separate profiles. Facebook groups promote a space for unique sameness, where speaker and spectator alike may engage and observe debates on topics of shared interest.
Among the disciples of Jesus Christ, destructive group-think exists. Some monitor the church and report her errors. Some express discontent with the church, and point at her deficiencies. Others use excess sarcasm (which is, please remember, hostility safely delivered) and like a velcro magnet, masses attract to the skewed lenses of a division. Others, although well-intended or well-meaning, take the route to expose in the name of helping the church recover from her various and sundry woes.
Yet to an assembly of charismatic, gifted, opinionated, free-thinking, expressive believers Apostle Paul warns them to agree about what matters. Within and without the faith community, be and project unity. The Corinthians took sides in their discipleship.
I follow Paul, some said.
I follow Apollos, others said.
I follow Cephas, more said.
I follow Christ, said the rest.
Then Paul asks a powerful question — IS CHRIST DIVIDED? Tough one. Instinct says yes, but wisdom says wait, no Christ is not but His church is divided. Paul further declares that his call was not baptism — not their discipleship — but preaching the Gospel.
What if the modern-day church of Jesus Christ stepped back from group-think to pursue calling and vocation? What if we agreed that Jesus is Lord and the glory of the Lord through our diligent pursuit of obedience to calling still witnesses within and without the faith community?
Complaints alone play small in the Kingdom of God. Let the created be the answer for creation. Let the monitors give solutions and activate. Let the destructive group-think dissolve into productive movements that lead people to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Let all who judge the condition of the Lord’s church according to where they live and witness have more exposure. Let there be missions trips — local, regional, national, global — to see the needs, connect with callings, embrace vocations, and speak the same things.
The Lord is great enough and made us one in His righteousness that even with stark disagreements, the character of Christ can be common and seen among His saints! Away with the group-think that mass produces Pharisees, Sadducees and Zealots. Be gone group-think that encourages freedom unto anarchy in the Lord’s church. Choose the sweet water to flow from our corporate fountain, and let the unsaved, unchurched, backslidden, unforgiving, and others drink deeply from our wells of resurrected group-think.
Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Savior. Jesus is Redeemer. Jesus is Love. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and the Door of the Sheep. Our rest and Pasture is in Him. Jesus is the name above all names.
How about we begin again, not in camps and tribes, but with and in Jesus? Selah. Unity is a choice too.
Shaunta D. Scroggins is the lead contributor for The Bereans’ Commentary.
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