When it comes the Corinthians, they seem like so many other prosperous cities in the
Roman Empire. Large due to trade and military. Corrupt due to a pagan temple. And a
church that is caught somewhere between the indulgence of the city and the morality of
empty religion. I think this feels a lot like the world we live in today. But that makes sense.
There is nothing new under the sun. Sin is the same today as it was then. However, so is the
God we serve. He is the one who speaks light into the darkness. Paul writes to the
Corinthians in response to reports he has received from the church. He addresses internal
issues and answers questions they have about the specifics of Christian life. Something I
love about Paul is that he is very thematic. His epistles speak on many different subjects, but
woven through different topics is always one theme that he is driving home. In this letter,
Paul desires that the church be unified. I was amazed that in the greeting, just the first three
verses, Paul is already making clear the oneness of the Church body.
1 Corinthians 1:1-3
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
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:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The word “our” is used 4 times in these 3 verses. Paul speaks of “our brother”, “our Lord
Jesus”, referring to Him as “their Lord and ours”, and “God our Father”. Paul is connecting
himself with the church. The God they serve is not theirs, He is ours. He is the thing that
unifies. And He doesn’t just unite Paul and the Corinthian church, He unites all believers
everywhere together. The letter is addressed “To the church of God that is in Corinth….
Together with all those who in every place call upon the name of out Lord Jesus Christ,”
When I read this it struck me that this letter was written to me as well. We cannot read this
letter and claim it is for another culture in another time. If we call on the name of Christ, this
letter is for us. If we call on the name of Christ, we are united with this church 2000 years ago
through His name.
This unity is through His name and it is for His name. In John 17:21 Jesus
prays, “that they may be one, just as You, Father are in Me, and I in You, that they also may
be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent me.” Our unity is for so much
more than brotherhood or solidarity. It is because when they see our love for our brothers
and a mutual sacrifice in order to have harmony, the world will take notice. They will
understand that Christ is who He says He is. I reflected on how many issues I take with
God’s people and how much that must grieve the Lord. I have an opportunity when there is
disagreement with a sister to not only preach (through my actions) the Gospel to that sister,
but also to the world watching. Christ laid down His life for me. I can humbly submit to others,
laying down my right to be right. I can fight for oneness in the church. I hope, as I join a new
church body, I will make that my goal. As far as I am able, I will fight for oneness for our good
and God’s glory.