1 Corinthians 1:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
Catholic. Baptist. Methodist. Presbyterian. Lutheran. Non-Demoninational. Evangelical. Protestant. Many people look at Christianity and see only division. There are good reasons for us to have these labels and separations in the sense that it indicates a desire to be faithful to God’s Word on various second and third tier doctrines. But often these divisions can become a sign of unhealthy disunity within the larger body of The Church. By The Church, I mean all Christians in all places. While I do believe in the local church as the primary expression of the Body of Christ in the world, I certainly also believe that we are united with all who share with us in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Why does Paul begin his letter to this divided and unhealthy church by telling them that they are united in their salvation with all who “in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ?” I believe there are at least two reasons:
(1) For our joy
I have had the privilege of worshiping with Christians on three continents from various denominational backgrounds. Sometimes I had the pleasure of an interpreter. Other times language was a barrier. But in every instance, there was in my heart a deepened sense of worship because there was a unity in my spirit with their spirits because of the mutual testimony of the gospel and presence of the Holy Spirit among us. The same happens on Sunday at Immanuel. There are many people that I share a joyful sense of unity in worship of Christ, dear brothers and sisters in the deepest sense of the word, with whom I have nearly nothing else in common. What binds me together with fellow believers in Brazil or Russia, or East Greenbush or Schodack is a unity of being under the Lordship of Christ. If you are a lone ranger Christian or someone who thrives on division, you will never know this joy. That would be a tragedy not only of your testimony, but also of a missed experience of the joy that is yours in Christ.
(2) For our unity
Divisions happen when we sinfully place ourselves at the center. When we deny the rightful place of Lord to Christ, self always creeps back in. Then we divide over preferences and perceived slights or offenses, because the self-god is challenged. But Christian, all of your life is a striving to follow Lord Jesus. When Jesus is the Lord of my life and the Lord of your life, we are serving the same Lord, with one purpose and shared devotion. When disagreements come, we can again bring them back to the Lord together and in our mutual submission to Him, find unity.
Ask yourself today in every situation: Am I acknowledging Jesus as Lord over this? In every disagreement, ask: Am I serving myself in my response or am I serving Jesus with my words, my will, or my actions? How do I need to submit an issue or a relationship to Christ’s Lordship trusting that He will provide the joy of unity even if I am having to set aside immediate wants or comforts?