Love Leads to Prayer
Living God, may I return to You; may I bow before You who is my Maker.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 1:10–17
10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you 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? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Division weakens by definition because fragmentation makes anything weaker than uniformity. How much glee does the devil feel when Christians continue to divide a local church, thus doing his job for him?
We hear the cry of Paul’s heart now as he begins with a brotherly appeal. He is earnestly imploring family members to remember who their Father is and behave as God’s children should. The church is neither a club nor an organization, but rather a family. Family members don’t always agree, but Paul appeals for them to stop exalting leaders in the way that has blighted this first-century fellowship. He mentions Jesus Christ ten times in the first ten verses, to build his argument for unity on the one who taught it so clearly: “A new command I give you: love one another” (John 13:34).
Paul’s appeal for unity is not a command, but it carries the weight of a firm admonition to the church in light of his concern for its witness. If there is division in any Christian group or church, it dishonors the name of Christ. It is inadvisable to exalt individual leaders and put them on a pedestal. The cult of personality has no place in the church. When such leaders fail, as they will because they are human, the effects can be catastrophic for the cause of Christ. When I was a young believer a man whom I admired greatly as a dynamic and powerful leader fell into sin and was dismissed. The bottom fell out of my world. Then I read the words of Jesus to Peter when he was concerned about what God was doing in John’s life, “What is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22).
Division blunts the effectiveness of our mission. A divided church is like a torn fishing net. If a schism is not repaired, it will undermine our testimony and render the entire net less than useful. That’s why Paul deals with it up-front in this letter.
Pray now for the unity of the church, both local and worldwide. Are there people or situations for whom you need to pray specifically?
Lord, teach me to esteem the other brother or sister in the church as better than myself (Phil. 2:3).
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.