First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians 1: 10-13a (NIV)
10 I appeal to you, brothers (and sisters), 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. 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?
The Apostle Paul’s appeal to the church in Corinth was that there would be no divisions among them, that they may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
It appears that individual members of the church in Corinth, perhaps influential people with their own cliques of supporters, were creating divisions by stating a preference for the style or message of successive leaders of the church – in Corinth or from further afield.
Paul’s plea for unity (that men and women would be perfectly united) echoes that of Jesus as he addressed his disciples in the upper room on the night of his betrayal and as he prayed for them:
so that they may be one as we are one (John 17: 11b). … that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity … (John 17: 21-23).
Different circumstances may have prompted these prayers of Jesus and Paul but the results sought were the same: “perfectly united/complete unity”.
We are thankful that we are created to be individual human beings, each uniquely crafted with our own different personalities and our own sets of talents. This is the Creator’s intention, so that people complement one another.
The Apostle Paul referred to this later in the same letter: “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body” (1 Corinthians 12: 12).
Our different personalities lead us to think differently, to appreciate beauty differently, to favour some aspects of our daily lives ahead of other aspects even though these other aspects may be preferred by people who live in close proximity to us. Football codes and sporting teams come to mind.
Christ is not divided. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. As followers of Jesus Christ, we should be able to place the things that divide us at a lower and less significant level – even the political ideologies that seem to be the causes of considerable division in our society. Political ideologies are for this world and only for this world; unity in Christ is eternal. It is Christ’s prayer, and Paul’s, that within Christ’s church, such unity should be reflected in our attitudes to one another.