It is said that when the British and French were fighting in Canada in the 1750s, Admiral Phipps, commander of the British fleet, was told to anchor outside Quebec. He was given orders to wait for the British land forces to arrive, then support them when they attacked the city. Phipps’ navy arrived early. As the admiral waited, he became annoyed by the statues of the saints that adorned the towers of a nearby cathedral, so he commanded his men to shoot at them with the ships’ cannons. No one knows how many rounds were fired or how many statues were knocked out, but when the land forces arrived and the signal was given to attack, the admiral was of no help. He had used up all his ammunition shooting at the “saints.”
Shooting saints is a common occurrence in church. If you have not been the victim of church gossip or open conflict, consider yourself fortunate. Conflict happens everywhere, but for some reason we think it shouldn’t happen at church – because it shouldn’t. If anyone should get along with each other, Christians should.
But after calling the church members in Corinth ‘sanctified saints’ (see 1 Corinthians 1), Paul dealt with the conflict between members. Even ‘sanctified saints’ have problems.
“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10
Paul pleads for unity. The disunity of the church remains one of the greatest scandals which compromises its witness today. Jesus pleaded with Hi disciples: “They will know you are Christians by your love one to another.” (John 13:35)
One of the greatest opportunities to impact an unbelieving world is the unity of believers.
It is common for churches to focus on outreach. Our mission is to preach the gospel to everyone. However, what happens within the church family is vital to the mission in the world.
Paul had heard of divisions in Corinth over personality. Some followed Paul, others, followed Apollos, some followed Peter, and some would not listen to anyone but Christ. Paul was the founder of the church and appealed to the Gentiles. Apollos was their former pastor and great intellectual speaker and still very popular. Though never in Corinth, Peter ministered to Jewish Christians and possibly appealed to those more legalistic. Yet, some were tired of all the personalities and only followed Christ.
Regardless, Paul’s appeal was that the important issue was they these all spoke the same message about Christ and His cross. Division and disunity arose because they took their attention away from Jesus and His cross and put them on personalities.
Jesus is the only one who can unite people.
Jesus can unite us all. We live in a world that is divided racially, politically, socially, economically, and about every way possible. We must realize that we will never find equality in this life. There will always be some who have more and those who envy them. But regardless of what we have or do not have, we all must come to Jesus and the cross the same way. We all come to God only through the cross of Jesus Christ. The ground there is level – all are equal at the cross.
The cross divides humanity but unites believers.
But the message of the cross is divisive. Some stumble over the cross. Others think it foolish. And some receive the message.
What unifies also divides. If I asked everyone with blue eyes to stand up, it would separate them from those who have brown eyes. When we choose to follow Jesus, it separates us from those who don’t.
But the cross is the power of God. It appears foolish, but the cross is the only thing that will save us from our sin. It was on the cross that Jesus paid the debt for our sin. It was on the cross that Jesus provided forgiveness. The greatest power is the power to remove sin.
Yet, many will not come to Jesus for forgiveness. Only the humble will accept what Jesus has done. So, many of the ‘greats’ of our world will never know the power of the cross. it is when we realize that we can do nothing & that God can & will do everything that real religion begins. It is when people realize their own weakness and lack of wisdom, that they are made strong and wise.
A little girls was lost in the big city. She met a police officer and he tried to help her find her way home. He mentioned several landmarks, but she was still confused. Finally, he mentioned a church with a big cross on the front. Her eyes lit up. “Yes,” she cried. “I know that cross. If you can get me to the cross, I can find my way home.”
If you can get to the cross of Jesus Christ, you will find your way home.