In 1 Corinthians 1:10 (NIV), Paul says, "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." This verse gives us three takeaways we can pursue as individual believers to promote the unity of our churches.
1. Agree with one another in what you say. This may sound silly in a cultural context where we value diversity - diversity of race, diversity of perspective and opinion and thought, and many other kinds of diversity. But when the subject matter pertains to the church, it is imperative at least to end the discussion or conversation on the same page. God wants His children to dwell together in unity, and a huge part of this is that the words we say agree with one another. Be honest with yourself. If you feel strongly enough about a particular issue that you cannot come to terms with others in your congregation, it may be time to look for a new church home.
2. Allow no divisions among you. This is not just repetitive. Paul understood that some division in church is spoken, but probably the majority of it is not. People keep their true feelings inside. They may smile and nod, but deep within, they are harboring hurt feelings, sharp differences, and more. God's Word urges us to ensure that the inclination of our heart is toward unification with our fellow believers and not at odds with them. Even carrying a divisive spirit around in my own heart without anyone else knowing about it is a violation of this verse. By doing my part to cooperate in what I speak and what I leave unsaid, I help support the unity of the church.
3. Pursue strong, edifying relationships within the body. The verse above says, "that you be perfectly united in mind and thought." The word is sometimes translated "perfectly joined together." It is the image of mending a piece of fabric that has become torn in two. I love woodworking, so I think of it in terms of a strong biscuit joint, dowel joint, or dovetail. An important part of each believer's role in church unity is to pursue relationships within the body where I can be a blessing to you and where you can be a blessing to me. We are called to bear one another's burdens. You don't fight your battles alone, and neither do I. Even if these relationships don't come chasing after you - something you can do to promote the unity of your church is to pursue intentionally meaningful and edifying relationships with others in the church. Look outside your small group and Sunday School class. Look outside your ministry area. Avoid forming a clique, but find people in whom you can spiritually invest and those who can spiritually invest in you.
These are just a few tips from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians that will help you become actively involved in promoting and protecting the unity of your church.
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