One of the clearest ways that the church looks separate from the world is through unity.
In 1 Corinthians 1:10, Paul says, “I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” It is worth noting that Paul does not base this statement on his authority as an apostle. Instead, he appeals to them “by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In this short verse, Paul instructs the Corinthians to:
- agree in all matters concerning the doctrines of the gospel
- maintain a tender love for one another
- not form groups as a consequence of disagreement
Anyone could look around at the global church and see that we have messed this up. Evaluating my own life based on this verse, I asked myself:
- Am I leaving people out?
- Do I intentionally avoid specific or certain kinds of people?
- Who have I not maintained a tender love for?
- What brother or sister am I giving the cold shoulder to?
Disunity usually comes about because of unresolved conflict, or perhaps even an unspoken disagreement. Sometimes, as Paul states, these problems can come back to a disagreement on the gospel. It may be a theological difference between myself and someone else. Or it may be one believer acting in disobedience or not trusting God at His word, causing discord in the church body.
Whatever the cause, first we disagree, then we withhold love, then we form groups. Our divisions don’t bring God glory, not to mention all the other sin that typically comes along with disunity, such as gossip.
Paul calls us to unity. Where do you have divisions in your own life? Seek resolution, for the sake of the gospel! The church is stronger when we make it a point to resolve conflicts. A.W. Tozer, in his book The Pursuit of God, says:
Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.
We do not become unified by insisting that we all agree with each other; we become unified by looking away from our disagreements, and ultimately ourselves, and looking towards the truth of Christ in His word.