10 Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.
1 Corinthians 1:10
Sadly, we hear about church splits every day. A church split is never easy and never scriptural. More often than not, trivial issues originating out of spiritual pride or hurt feelings cause these fellowship ruptures.
For example, there was the “Fried Chicken” church split when a pastor complimented one member for the fried chicken she brought to a fellowship picnic, but he did not compliment another member for her chicken. The result was good-bye pastor and good-bye to half the membership.
Another case in point was the “Distracting Offertory” church split. Half the church body wanted the offering at mid-service, declaring that was the “right” spot, and half the body wanted to move the offertory to the end of the service because that was less distracting. Consequently, there was a split, two churches evolved from one, and both churches suffered trashed testimonies in their community.
Using the authority of Jesus Christ placed on him, Paul addressed the issue of petty arguments within the church body in 1 Corinthians 1:10. Writing to the church in Corinth, which had multiple problems including disunity, Paul delivered a crucial message that applies to every church. He pleaded for unity and harmony between members, thus leaving no room for division. Paul did not illogically demand that all should think alike or blindly follow church leadership in thoughtless conformity. With different makeups, different backgrounds, and different filters through which we experience the world, he knew that was absurd. There is room for disagreement in life.
However, Paul did establish the standard for the Body of Christ to function in the midst of our differences. Simply put, we are to focus on delivering the gospel message in unity of purpose and deem others as more important than we regard ourselves (Philippians 2:1-4). This kind of harmony and alignment can only develop through the process of spiritual growth. If we allow Jesus to transform our thinking, our petty differences, hurt feelings and pride will become secondary, and our unity in conviction and purpose will become primary.
The Lord’s call for us to become disciples who make disciples must take precedence over our feelings about our favorite preacher, program or ministry. Rifts between believers blemish our testimony in the eyes of the lost, and until we love each other as precious individuals made in the image of God, we cannot fully comprehend the foolishness of our biased arguments. If we will surrender our self-centered views, we can come together and effectively deliver the gospel of Christ to a world without hope.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Have you ever found yourself in a contentious conversation with another church member over a church issue that could cause division? How did you handle that situation?
- Do you hold any animosity against other believers that minimizes your effectiveness in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ?
- Are you ready to ask Christ to change your heart so that you are never a factor in creating division within the body?
Play a brief game of “this or that” with your family. Offer questions about preferences, allowing family members to shout out their choice. Here are some examples:
Chocolate or vanilla ice cream?
Tacos or pizza?
Roller skating or skateboarding?
Water slide or hot tub?
Winter or summer?
Christmas or birthday?
At some point, shift your topics to ones that will have a definite right or wrong answer. Here are some examples:
Cheating and getting a better grade, or doing your own schoolwork and getting a lower grade?
Lying to avoid getting in trouble, or telling the truth, even if that means having consequences?
Being kind, or being funny (but hurtful)?
Explain that we can disagree about some things, and it’s ok! It doesn’t really matter what kind of ice cream we like or which sport is our favorite. There are other things, however, about which it’s important that we have unity—this means we agree with each other and stand together. Read aloud 1 Corinthians 1:10, then discuss some issues about which it’s very important for a church to be unified. (Make these as basic as needed for your child’s development.)
Emphasize that sometimes, you won’t agree with people in your family or in your church about some things—maybe how to do something—but we can’t let those things get in the way of our unity about the most important things (refer back to the issues you discussed in the previous paragraph).
Pray as a family for your church, that you will have unity in Christ!
Pray for Nelson and Ann Sophie, global workers from our church family supporting the work of the YWAM training base in Hawaii. Pray for their work to be fruitful both locally and in those they prepare to go out to the nations.