Summary: This sermon is an exposition of 1 Cor 1.10-17.
Unity in Christ
Text: 1 Cor 1.10-17.
Illustration: The Queen Mary was the largest ship to cross the oceans when it was launched in 1936. Through four decades and a World War she served until she was retired, anchored as a floating hotel and museum in Long Beach, California. During the conversion, her three massive smokestacks were taken off to be scraped down and repainted. But on the dock they crumbled. Nothing was left of the 3/4 inch steel plate from which the stacks had been formed. All that remained were more than thirty coasts of paint that had been applied over the years. The steel had rusted away. Their care of those smoke stacks had focused on the exterior, the paint, rather than on the condition of the steel. In our passage today we read of a problem that arises when a church focuses on the paint rather than on the steel.
1. Read Text.
2. Brethren unite: I have heard that you divide yourselves when we should be more interested in inward truths.
3. Thesis: Unity in Christ requires that we agree on inward truths rather than outward conformity.
4. Proposition: (You all) Promote unity in the church.
5. Read---“How can we promote unity in the Church?”
6. This passage indicates 3 focuses that, when present, promote unity in the church.
7. The 3 focuses that promote unity are a focus on Agreement, Acceptance, and Authenticity.
First of all the church should focus on…
I. Agreement - vv.10-12. Lit. ”sameness”
A. The Same Personality. (v.10-11)
Gr. “Nous” in opposition to Gr. “Schimas” noun form of verb “schizo”. The personality should be the “mind of Christ” (*1 Cor 2.16) demonstrated by the “fruits of the Spirit” (*Gal 5.16-23).
B. The Same Purpose.
V.12 “quarrels” is Gr. “eris”, lit.“rivalries”.
Secondly, the church should focus on…
II. Acceptance - vv. 13-16.
A. A Question - “Has Christ been divided?” (*Lk 9.49-50)
B. A Conclusion – Accept others in the Body of Christ. Stop maintaining these ridiculous factions!
Illustration: John Wesley tells of a dream he had. In the dream, he was ushered to the gates of Hell. There he asked, "Are there any Presbyterians here?" "Yes!", came the answer. Then he asked, "Are there any Baptists? Any Episcopalians? Any Methodists?" The answer was Yes! each time. Much distressed, Wesley was then ushered to the gates of Heaven. There he asked the same question, and the answer was No! "No?" To this, Wesley asked, "Who then is inside?" The answer came back, "There are only Christians here."
Thirdly, the church should focus on…
III. Authenticity - v. 17.
A. Empty Religion is the enemy of the church. (*Ecc 1.1)
B. Inward Reality (authenticity) is the strength of the church.
Illustration: A man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection. The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup. As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger printed, photographed, and placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects. He said, "I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ’What Would Jesus Do’ bumper sticker, the ’Choose Life’ License plate holder, the ’Follow Me to Sunday-School’ bumper Sticker, And the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk, Naturally...I assumed you had stolen the car!”
1. The 3 focuses that promote unity are a focus on Agreement, Acceptance, and Authenticity.
2. All that has been said can be summed up in the belief that the Christian life is inward in nature. When we focus on externals we cause all kinds of problems in a church, division is only one problem focusing on externals can cause.
3. Let us promote unity in our church by focusing on internal transformation rather than outward conformity. After all…a mule in a tuxedo is still a mule.