Devotional June 1, 2020
It seems that everywhere we look these days we see divisions. Sometimes they are harmless and fun, like having different allegiances to sports teams, but sometimes they are harmful and cause pain. The one place where we should never see divisions is in the church. Unfortunately, when we take an honest look at the church today, we see all kinds of divisions. Everything from differing views on doctrine all the way to differences of opinions on things such as worship style or color of the carpet.
This is not a new issue in the church. Paul addressed it in his first letter to the Corinthians. The argument they had was that they felt their place in the church should be based on who led them to the Lord. Some were led to the cross by Paul, others by Apollos, and still others by each other. In this case people were basing their value on the fame and renown of the one who led them to the Lord. Paul addresses this in very strong terms. He rebukes the Corinthian believers for continuing to live according to the flesh as opposed to living by the Spirit. This impacted even the ability of the Corinthians to understand the teaching of Word of God. Paul tells them that he couldn’t move them from the milk of the Word as new believers to the meat of the Word for mature believers. This division was hindering their ability to grow in their relationship with the Lord.
Paul then cuts to the root of the problem. “ What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-9
He explains that there is no status in who led you to the Lord. At the end of the day, the growth that we experience as believers is caused by God, not the one who led us to Him. Instead of looking for ways to set themselves apart in a self-important manner, Paul tells the Corinthians that they should seek out the manner in which they are alike. That manner is that God is working in each and every one of them, regardless of who led them to the cross. Paul tells them that he, Apollos, and all others are simply God’s tools to minister to the lives of the Corinthians. Therefore, they should feel connected to each other and not divided. The blood of Jesus is more important than who leads the Bible study.
Our churches today face similar issues. The divisions come from what denomination you are in, who your pastor is, what kind of music is played during worship at your church, and what you believe about certain contested theological issues. Then there are the issues within individual churches that are sometimes as absurd as design issues, color of carpeting, and placement of furniture or use of technology within the building. The church needs to be able to stand united in this time, but how can we be expected to do so when we continue to argue and bicker over these trivial issues. Some might think they aren’t that trivial, but the bottom line is that as believers, we are connected by the blood of Christ and all those differences become trivial in the shadow of the cross.
The church should be the example that others can look to for so many things in this life. So, we as believers need to learn to look past so many of those trivial issues that so often divide us. The solution is to love one another. That is what Paul points out when he tells the Corinthians that “For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” He is telling them that he and Apollos are working together with God, in love for the Corinthian church. So, let us love one another in the church, because if we can’t love one another in the church, how can we take the love of Christ to those who need it outside the church?