Summary: Dwight L. Moody once stated, "I have never yet known the Spirit of God to work where the Lord's people were divided." For God to bless the church, there must be unity.
The Call to Unity
Recently, I read about a church that split, and that split began over an argument at a potluck supper when a lady brought a congealed salad made with Cool Whip instead of real whipping cream. Frank Martin has written a book entitled War in The Pews that talks about real-life instances which are shocking. Churches have split over whether the piano should be to the right or the left side of the podium, whether the Lord’s Supper should be served from the front of the sanctuary to the back or the back to the front, whether a kitchen should be a part of the church building or not. One church split over who was the real pastor. They had two pastors. The two groups thought they each had their own guy, and both preachers got up to lead the service one Sunday. Both led the singing. Both groups tried to out-sing each other. Then both pastors started preaching, trying to out-preach each other. Finally, they just broke out into fisticuffs, and the police had to come in and break it up. (Bob Joyce, Sermon central)) How shameful it is for church’s to be divided! John Calvin says, “nothing is more inconsistent in Christians than to be at variance among themselves”
After addressing the call to salvation, the call to holiness, and the call to doing life together, Paul now addresses the one thing that can destroy both the individual believer’s testimony and the church’s very existence. In Matthew 22:25, Jesus teaches us that “every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” This is true also of the church. Dwight L. Moody once stated, "I have never yet known the Spirit of God to work where the Lord's people were divided." And this was exactly the condition of the church at Corinth, and why Paul now addresses this call to unity. Paul writes, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
As we have previously pointed out the Church of Corinth was a troubled church with a myriad of problems. The church in Corinth was divided over many issues:
• They were arguing about the right of Christians to eat meat which had been offered to idols.
• They were arguing about whether a Christian should marry or not.
• Some were showing off with spiritual gifts seeking to prove they were being more spiritual than others.
• People were interrupting public worship with disorderly conduct.
• They were aligning themselves behind one Christian leader and criticizing anyone else in the congregation who were aligned with a different Christian leader.
• They had a feminist group vying for power in the church and home.
• During the Lord’s Supper, they were setting up a caste system where rich people sat at one table and poor people at another.
• Christians were going to court each other. (copied)
Just because they were members of the same church did not mean they were on the same page. Someone has said, “There can be union without unity: tie two cats together by their tails and throw them over a clothesline. There you will have union, but certainly not unity!”
For God to bless the church, there must be unity. Psalm 133 starts with these words, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” It ends by saying “For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.”
Christ calls for the church to be bound together in unity. Listen as Christ prays to the Father for those who would follow Christ’s call to salvation, sanctification, and fellowship. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23) It is to this end Paul calls for unity as he deals with the issues facing the Corinthian church which claimed spirituality but was anything but unified.
Paul begins, “Now I beseech (or plead) with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. In this verse Paul lays out three areas where the Corinthians needed correction: doctrinal division, schisms, and misdirected focus.