In this chapter, Paul tells us that even in the very early church, some division had crept in. Which confirms once again the verse from Ecclesiastes 1:9, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
As a race, people don’t really change. Even today, divisions happen within churches. Factions form. Disagreements happen. Preferences clash. Listen, people are people. These unfortunate things happen in any organization that has more than one person in it, don’t they. My goodness, even in my own one-man business I have disagreements with myself!
There are many reasons that divisions and disagreements are not good, but the main reason that Paul points out is that the central idea of the church gets lost. Paul says, “…by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, I beg all of you to agree with each other. You should not be divided into different groups. Be completely joined together again with the same kind of thinking and the same purpose.”
He says it in a nice way, but in essence he gets out the big stick when he says, “by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is as if the Lord (which means The Big Boss, The Master) Himself is telling them this. And Paul says, “Get it together, folks. Focus on the Main Thing.”
What is the main thing? He tells us in verse 23: But this is the message we tell everyone: Christ was killed on a cross.
The full meaning of that phrase is that Jesus purchased their salvation by shedding His blood for them. It is the message of salvation. And that should be our only focus.
We should not be separated by the kind of music we sing, the kind of clothes we wear, whether someone has tattoos or anything else. When we focus on those things, people who don’t yet know Jesus see nothing different about us than any other organization. Except perhaps it’s even worse when they see that in the church, since they know that we are *supposed* to represent a loving God. They say, “What a bunch of hypocrites” or “Why should I join them? I can fight at work or at home or at the Rotary Club.”
Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Sometimes it’s not easy, but that’s a topic for another time. Just know that it is possible when you see your opponent through the eyes of Jesus.