These days it seems our nation and our church are getting more and more divided every day. Which is why we began a new 6-week sermon series on Sunday called A House United. In this series, by studying Paul’s letter to the 1 Corinthians, we will discover how to live united as one body of Christ in the midst of this divided world.
Paul finds out that the Corinthian church began to get into some arguments that divided the, up into different groups, so he writes them this letter (which become 1 Corinthians) that urges them to be unified as one body of Christ. The Corinthians separated into factions, with different groups claiming “I belong to Apollos,” “I belong to Cephas,” “I belong to Paul.” Paul grew quite frustrated with the Corinthians, especially with all the work both Jesus and him did to break down walls of separation in the church, for division cripples the church’s mission and witness. Therefore, he uses rhetorical questions to help the Corinthians see where they have gone wrong, inquiring “has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in Paul’s name?” Using these rhetorical questions, he reminds the Corinthians and us that we do not belong to any human leader. We don’t belong to Paul or John Wesley or Adam Hamilton, we belong to Christ alone.
Paul calls for unity in mind and purpose in the name of Jesus Christ. This unity does not mean uniformity, for later in the later Paul praises the diversity of gifts, affirming that they are all needed to build up the body of Christ. Unity means similarity in purpose, which is why our mission statement at FUMC Colleyville is same as the global UMC mission statement: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Unity implies community. Unity means connecting with each other over the common bond of Jesus Christ. We are called to be united with Christ at the center, not divided over the boundaries of the church.
The reality is that we struggle a lot with division. Our nation is divided, with polarizing opinions on various issues. Our Church is divided, with over 38,000 denominations. Even our own local church is divided at times. We divide over who has the “correct” form of worship, funeral decorations, and how to run a ministry. So how do we move towards unity? First, we focus on Christ at the center. We remember the cross and the sacrificial love of Jesus. Second, we remember we are family. Paul didn’t refer to the Corinthians as colleagues, or friends, but as brothers and sisters. When we remember we are family, it can helps us deal with disagreements in a spirit of care and compassion. We are better and stronger together, than a part.
Monday: 1 Corinthians 1:1-17
Tuesday: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Wednesday: 1 Corinthians 2:1-10
Thursday: 1 Corinthians 2:11-16
Friday: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Questions to Consider/Discuss:
1. Do you think it is harder to live unified or divided? Why?
2. When we are divided, what do we lose?
3. When we are united, how might we better experience and share God’s love with the world?