Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. — 1 Corinthians 1:10
Several years ago, I visited two small churches near Mexicali, Mexico. In addition to organizing Bible school activities for the children of the barrio where one church was located and building an addition to their church building, the group I was with had the opportunity to worship with both congregations. At each service, we heard Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” and we found that it was true! We visitors were very different from our hosts. We spoke different languages, wore contrasting styles of clothes, ate dissimilar foods, and lived in opposite circumstances. Yet, none of these things mattered to us. We were all “brethren” in Jesus Christ. Our focus was on Him. As we worshiped Him, the Holy Spirit was with us. We were one congregation praising our God together.
A few months later, a visiting minister came to our church in Los Angeles, California. He, too, read that verse in Psalms. Once again, we felt the Holy Spirit working among us, and our hearts were unified. As the service came to an end and the Holy Spirit drew us, we flocked to the altars of prayer. Before we knew what had happened, three or four hours had passed, and we were still grouped around the altar benches and sitting in the front pews of the sanctuary. No one wanted to leave! Instead, after we had finished praying, people began to testify of the wonderful things God was doing in their lives. Between testimonies we would sing. The singing brought praise. Then we would start to pray, and the cycle would begin again. Because there were no divisions among us, God had liberty to work in our hearts and lives. All who were there felt His sweet and wonderful Spirit.
The common thread in both of these experiences was the unity among those who had gathered to worship Jesus. Diversities of race, nationality, age, language, or socioeconomic status, did not hinder our worship. We knew that before the Throne of God we were all equal. Our love for Jesus Christ created a bond between us that could not be broken by earthly differences. As we looked to Jesus, the Holy Spirit had the freedom to work among us, changing us into His likeness and bringing our lives into the center of His will.
Once I became aware of God’s desire for us to be unified, and of the way He moves among us when we are unified, I began to be more conscious of my own attitudes when attending church. Now when I go to pray, I check myself. Am I in one accord with the brothers and sisters around me? Is my heart where God would have it to be? Am I doing anything in my life that might cause strife? I listen to the Spirit’s voice, and make changes as He shows them to me. Sometimes at the altar, I hear others praying near me, and I find myself agreeing with their prayers. I begin to pray along with them, and I feel God’s presence in a special way. When I am bound in unity to God and to fellow Christians, my life becomes a tool that God can use, and He causes me and the people around me to grow in Him.
Paul wanted this same kind of unity to exist in the church at Corinth. He knew that they needed to overcome their differences and put their focus on God.
The city of Corinth was one of the most prosperous Greek cities in Paul’s time. It was known for its decadence and wickedness to the extent that a Greek verb Corinthianize meant “to practice sexual immorality; to debauch.” In this wicked environment, Paul and his contemporaries planted a church. While there were some Jewish believers in the church, it was made up mostly of Gentiles who had left their pagan lives to follow Christ.
After Paul left Corinth, many problems surfaced, and division spread among the believers. Soon, reports of these problems came to Paul, and a delegation of Corinthians brought a letter from the church requesting his guidance on a number of issues. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was a response to those questions.
Paul began his letter by addressing their need for unity. Various church members had become more attached to certain leaders than to Christ, so Paul reminded his readers that the Cross of Jesus Christ must be the foundation of His Church. The Corinthians needed to be careful to keep their focus on Jesus.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Introduction (1:1-9)
A. The salutation (1:1-3)
1. The writer (1:1)
2. The addresses (1:2)
3. The benediction (1:3)
B. The prayer of thanksgiving (1:4-9)
1. Cause for thanksgiving (1:4-7)
2. Confidence of the thanker (1:8-9)
II. Answer to reports
A. The problem of church divisions
1. The introduction (1:10-17)
a. An exhortation to unity (1:10)
b. A description of the disunity (1:11-12)
c. The basis of unity (1:13-17)
Unity under God is essential in the Body of Christ. We must care for our fellow believers, not strive with them!