Several years ago I “preached” a sermon on ‘Divisions,’ based on the words from 1 Corinthians 1:10-18. As I listen to the news and hear the people in the country either gloating or pouting or even rioting about the elections in the U.S.A., I think we need to take a serious look at this topic again. I hope and pray that among Christians we will leave this behind and certainly, most importantly, leave it at the cross before we enter the church.
Quarrels are a part of family life, as sinful people with different ideas and goals collide with each other. Quarreling is not only demoralizing it is also divisive, breaking families apart. Quarreling can invade the church, too. Such was the case in the Corinthian church. Cliques were forming within that congregation. Some were followers of Paul, others of Peter, still others of Apollos, while others claimed allegiance to Christ. These opposing parties threatened the unity of the church with their divisive quarreling. Paul urges a different attitude, “I appeal to you, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you, and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” In the church, there are no divisions allowed.
Divisions can destroy the church. Paul demonstrates his horror at the fact that the Corinthian church was divided. He reminds the Corinthians that since they have fellowship with Christ, they also have fellowship with each other. They are to be united in mind and thought as they agree with each other for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom. When Paul speaks about divisions in the church, he is not talking about doctrinal differences or standing on the Word of God against error and false teaching. This was not the issue. The divisions were personal rivalries, where people quarrel with each other in harmful ways, where power struggles disrupt relationships and hurt the ministry of the church.
Quarrels can erupt in the church, because the church is filled with sinners. But, God has knit us together as brothers and sisters in Christ. There are spiritual implications to divisions in the church. When a church is divided against itself, ministry gets put on “the back burner.” Conflict takes all the time and energy. If a body is at war with its self, it becomes ineffective. Paul expresses concern that there be “no division,” “lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” When a church is divided, ministry suffers and Christ is dishonored. Quarrels are a product of immaturity. When church members fight, they are no better than unbelievers. As some have said, “We don’t want to give the devil an opportunity here.” Good advice!
So, the real issue is how we deal with each other as fellow members of Christ’s church. We are joined together in Christ. He stands between us whenever we relate to each other. When Jesus stands between us, the rules of the game change. We “accept one another as we have been accepted in Christ.” There is no room for holding a grudge. There is no room for judging the motives, sincerity, or spirituality of another. There is no room for political movements. We trust the Holy Spirit to lead and direct us into His way. Leave the world and its politics to the world. We must remember that God has joined us together in His church. “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another…that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” We are all God’s children, so let’s play nice together. No divisions allowed!
Pastor Bill Lowrey