Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Blessings and Unity

Wandered into 1 Corinthians this morning. You know, the letter from Paul to a troubled church. I made it through the first 17 verses. See if you can relate.

This church was in trouble because of divisions yet Paul did not start there. He first confirmed that they were a people who had been gifted and blessed by God (chapter 1 verse 7). Sometimes I wonder if there is a connection between giftedness and division, like, the more gifted someone is the more likely there will be a temptation to be divided, or divisive. Then he pointed out the problem: divisions among believers. Verse 10 is the key verse. Paul gives three quick commands:

Speak the same thing
Let no divisions exist
Be completely joined together

To speak the same thing is tough for us because we sometimes think the Constitution is more important than the Bible. Freedom of speech may be a good idea for government but it is a foreign concept to the Bible's description of obedience. To say the same thing honestly requires us to mentally acknowledge it, the first step to making it the true pattern of our hearts.

Now the second two have two important things in common. First, they are both very clear. Second, they both are possible to do even though they may seem impossible to imagine. In other words I don't believe God puts commands in the Bible that we cannot obey through the power of His Holy Spirit. That means both of these require us to make a willful choice.

It is then possible for us to CHOOSE not to be divided. I noticed as I read on that the divisions they experienced were at least in part because they lined up under different "spiritual banners". In this case they seemed to be trying to "one up" one another by claiming their way or their teacher was the spiritually superior way. Like many of us they were running a spiritual fake, hiding behind a spiritual shell in order to pursue a simple thing: their own will.

This brings us to the last command. "Have no divisions" is the negative command while "be completely joined together" is the positive. This idea is something hard for us to understand. Be completely joined together. Speak together, think together, stay together, work together, be together. Can we really CHOOSE to be united? I have to trust that it would not be in Scripture if God did not intend for us to do it. So here is our crisis of belief. We must choose one way or another whether we believe God and whether we will obey His command to be united. Choosing God and unity will require we drop our own selfish desires, no matter how "spiritual" they sound, and simply yield to the will of the Master. His will is for us to be one.