Three divisive scenarios – God’s one unifying solution

Peaceful unity is beautiful, whereas evil promotes cantankerous divisiveness. We recognize this. However, are we aware just how profoundly solidarity saturates God’s will at all levels?

Paul’s writings outline God’s solutions for a fractured cosmos, a divided church and broken relationships. Should we be surprised that at its core the same solution keeps appearing?

The Ephesian letter is set against a cosmic backdrop of enmity and alienation. Yet, hope breaks forth as Paul unfurls God’s plan and work to create a path toward unity that overcomes every dividing chasm.

Through the language of joining together everything in heaven and on earth under one head, bringing near what had been far away, reconciliation and redemption, one new man, being joined together, fellow members and partakers, the unity of the Spirit, the seven ones, as well as the unity of the faith, we discover that Christ exists at the heart of God’s solution for fractured relationships (Eph. 1:7,10; 2:13-15,21; 3:6; 4:3-6, 13). Through Christ, wrath and distance are defeated (Eph. 2:1-5, 12-17).

When we consider this grandest of all scales, we find God at work through Christ to unify the things of heaven and earth as well as those on earth. Zooming down to the level of a specific church ensnared in division, once again the salve for disunity is Christ.

To the church at Corinth characterized by division and desperately needing to be united with the same mind and purpose (1 Cor. 1:10-12; 3:3-4), Paul refocused their values.

Since the source for their divisiveness existed in placing too much value upon human wisdom and certain personalities, Paul downplayed humanity’s importance while exalting God’s wisdom and work (1 Cor. 1:18-31; 3:5-7). If the church would value Christ, the power and wisdom of God, the source for their divisions would cease, as together they would boast in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:24, 30-31; 2:5; 3:18-23).

Such a shift in perspective and values would require changing their habits to align more accurately with God’s will. No longer could they sit in God’s judgment seat to glorify one person over another (1 Cor. 4:5). Furthermore, rather than valuing human opinions, they would now need to rally around “not going beyond what had been written” (1 Cor. 4:6).

Finally, even at the personal level where the rub is between two individuals at odds with each other, the answer is Christ. Paul serves up Philippians.

The church members at Philippi knew what fractured relationships looked like up close and personal. Not only had they gazed into the eyes of their persecutors from outside the church (Phil. 1:28-30), but tensions flared within the church as well (Phil. 4:2).

In a scenario where someone could expect grumbling, arguing and behavior protecting one’s own interests, Paul prescribed an informed love that would know how to produce the fruit of seeking the wellbeing of others (Phil. 1:9-11; 2:1-4,14-15). Of course, the mindset of Christ epitomized such a loving attitude (Phil. 2:4-8). If they would take this gospel medicine they would stand unified (Phil. 1:27).

People have proposed many social, political and philosophical solutions for obtaining peaceful unity. One idea currently in vogue involves embracing an inclusiveness built upon a materialistic outlook that denies any meta-narrative holds greater truth than any other. Scripture points to Christ being God’s one true solution for all division.

 

 

 

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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