“Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, that there are quarrels among you” (1 Corinthians 1:10-11).
“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as spiritual men, but as men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are not walking like mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).
I love passages of scripture that are so crystal clear that it is impossible to read them and then walk away without them pricking our hearts along the way. The Apostle John gives us some examples in his first epistle. Bear with me a moment and then we will get back to our beginning verses.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God” (1 John 4:7-8). And, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1John 3:20).
Here, John is telling us that we cannot claim to be born again and at the same time hold ought in our hearts against a brother or sister in Christ. For the love of God that fills our hearts for the brethren, is evidence of a life that is a new creation in Christ.
Now, as we return to the words of Paul to the church at Corinth, he said that they were baby Christians, still sucking a spiritual breast instead of eating meat. The same rebuke is found in Hebrews 5 where the writer said, “You ought to be teachers by now, but you are still drinking milk, unable to eat solid food.”
What was the tell-tale sign that that many in the Corinthians church were spiritual babies? “I have been informed that there are quarrels among you” (1 Corinthians 1:10-11). “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as spiritual men, but as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. For there is jealousy and strife among you…” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).
That fact that the Corinthians were quarrelers, who were filled with jealousy and strife, was the giveaway that their Christianity was not only immature but infantile. I am sure that that you can tell, Paul was not complementing them for these attributes, he was rebuking them.
Recently, I have spoken to you about the power of unity and love in the Christin church. I have exhorted you from the words of Paul to the Philippians; consider one another as more important than yourselves.
The cry of Paul’s heart for the Corinthian church was, “that you all agree… that there be no divisions among you…that you be of the same mind and same judgment.”
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” One of Jesus’ titles is Prince of Peace, and when we endeavor to share in this peacemaking ministry, the father gives us the same title as Jesus; we shall be called sons of God.
I am going to say this again, 2020 could and should be the church’s finest hour. While the world around us quarrels and fights and divides and hates, we have the opportunity to show them a different way, love, unity, harmony, and joyful service to all, because indeed, all lives matter. But what it will take is a willingness to die to self and a spirit-filled to consider others as more important than ourselves.
A quote from Philip Yancey occupied space on our refrigerator for many years. In essence, it said, “What would it be like if when our neighbors heard the word Christian, the first thing that popped into their minds were, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control?”
Now is our hour to make these qualities real to our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as the hurting world around us.