BUILDING UP THE BROTHERHOOD

FITLY UNITED IN THE SAME MIND

August 16, 2012

     

 

 

Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.”

– 1 Corinthians 1:10

 

    In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul gave counsel to a congregation situated in the midst of controversy. In Corinth dwelt people of various races and religious backgrounds, including Jews and Greeks.  The Jews were known for their righteousness as to law and their religious superstitions; whereas the Greeks were known for their centers of learning, worship of various idols and licentious practices.

 

    Corinth was a metropolis and a city of strategic commercial importance, but it was also a city of very low morals.  The debauchery and intellectual sophistry was finding its way into the Corinthian congregation and was clashing with the superstitious and legalistic Jewish mindset, causing divisions.  How would this new Christian congregation survive in the midst of such conflicting views on God, on behavior, and on life?      

    The secret to its success would lie in the words written above by Paul – that they be “fitly united in the same mind and the same line of thought.” His counsel is as timely today as it was in the first century. Even those of us who do not live in a metropolis are exposed to similar diversity and similar moral challenges, if not in person, then by way of television, internet and other forms of media.  Thus, modern day sons of God need to apply Paul’s counsel with even greater intensity because we exist in an even more divided community of believers.  As Jesus told the scribes of his day:

 

Why, if a kingdom becomes divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand; and if a house becomes divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”

 Mark 3:24-25

 

    The failure of Christianity to be a “fitly united” brotherhood of sons of God is the major reason why the good news of the Kingdom of God is not more readily sought after by the world.  And it is also a major reason why the ‘enemies of religion’ are gaining a stronghold – some boldly and brazenly assaulting, attacking, even killing our brothers in the faith.

 

    Let us turn our attention to Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, first to understand the letter, and second to apply it by becoming “fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.”

 

Report of Divisions

 

    At the time Paul penned this letter, he was residing in Ephesus. (1 Corinthians 16:8) But he received word from Corinth that a problem was brewing:    

 

For the disclosure was made to me about you, my brothers, by those of [the house of] Chloe, that dissensions exist among you, What I mean is this, that each one of you says: ‘I belong to Paul,’ ‘But I to Apollos,’ ‘But I to Cephas,’ ‘But I to Christ.’  The Christ exists divided.  Paul was not impaled for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”

1 Corinthians 1:11-13 

 

    The early apostles and disciples of Christ took their ministry very seriously. They spread out from Jerusalem preaching and teaching about the Kingdom of God and making more disciples. Those teachers and leading men spent time caring for those who responded to the message, and those who responded developed a deep respect for their teachers, some becoming attached, even dependent on those men.

 

    Though many of them were able teachers, none was as proficient or knowledgeable as the Christ. Thus, they could not convey all the different facets of the diverse Kingdom message and yet maintain its oneness as thoroughly as did Jesus.  Instead, each focused on what they were able to grasp and what they appreciated most, and their listeners latched onto that facet of the message.  As a result,  apparent  divisions arose, giving rise to Paul’s counsel.

 

    As noted above, Paul’s first directive was for the Corinthians to put matters into perspective.  Not one of their leading teachers – not Apollos, not Cephas (Peter), not even Paul himself – was impaled for them, and none of those disciples were baptized into the name of any of their leaders. All were baptized into Christ, thus all belonged to Christ.

 

    To those who claimed Paul as their ‘owner,’ Paul emphasized that he wanted no part of that distinction, telling them he hardly baptized anyone!  He told them that preaching and teaching was his primary mission, and that he was not even a baptizer:  

 

I am thankful I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.  Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas.  As for the rest, I do not know whether I baptized anybody else.  For Christ dispatched me, not to go baptizing, but to go declaring the good news, not with wisdom of speech, that the torture stake of the Christ should not be made useless.”

– 1 Corinthians 1:14-17 

 

    But he readily recognized that the divisions had sprung up because of the Greek influence of intellectual sophistry and the Jewish influence of legalism:

 

For the speech about the torture stake is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is God’s power.  For it is written: ‘I will make the wisdom of the wise [men] perish, and the intelligence of the intellectual [men] I will shove aside.’ Where is the wise man? Where the scribe? Where the debater of this system of things?  Did not God make the wisdom of the world foolish?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not get to know God, God saw good through the foolishness of what is preached to save those believing.”

– 1 Corinthians 1:18-21

 

    Paul’s reference to ‘the torture stake’ is not limited to the context of Jesus death. But it also includes our ongoing baptism into Christ’s death and the need to live our lives and worship the Father as he did.  Notice how Jesus described it and how Paul used the phrase in other letters:

 

He now called the crowd to him with his disciples and said to them: ‘If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and follow me continually. For whoever wants to save his soul will lose it; but whoever loses his soul for the sake of me and the good news will save it.”

– Mark 8:34-35

 

All those who want to make a pleasing appearance in the flesh are the ones that try to compel you to get circumcised, only that they may not be persecuted for the torture stake of the Christ, Jesus.  For not even do those who are getting circumcised keep the Law themselves, but they want you to be circumcised that they may have cause for boasting in your flesh.  Never may it occur that I should boast, except in the torture stake of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been impaled to me and I to the world.

– Galatians 6:12-14

 

By means of his flesh he abolished the enmity, the Law of commandments consisting in decrees, that he might create the two peoples in union with himself into one new man and make peace; and that he might fully reconcile both peoples in one body to God through the torture stake, because he had killed off the enmity by means of himself.”

 Ephesians 2:15-16

 

    So Paul is telling the Corinthians to focus on the ‘torture stake’ – the Christ-like lifestyle – and not be influenced by seeming intellectuals or be drawn into debates based on worldly wisdom.  Such debates lead nowhere; whereas the simple message of accepting our torture stake and following Christ will save us.  He goes on:

 

For both the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks look for wisdom; but we preach Christ impaled, to the Jews a cause for stumbling but to the nations foolishness; however, to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because a foolish thing of God is wiser than men, and a weak thing of God is stronger than men.”

– 1 Corinthians 1:22-23

 

    The Jews, being a superstitious religious people, were looking for signs and miracles and portents in order to believe in the ‘torture stake’ of the Christ; the Greeks, being intellectuals, were looking for great philosophical utterances.  Because there were no signs given, the Jews were stumbled; because no great sophistry was heard, the Greeks dismissed the message as foolishness.  However, “to those who are the called,” they are to accept the message of the ‘torture stake’ based on the wise, powerful and exemplary life Christ led.  Indeed, looking to the Christ is stronger than any miracle and any wisdom originating with man.

 

    Yet it appears that the Corinthians brothers were trying to conform the Christian message so as to appear intellectual to the Greeks and miraculous to the Jews; and it is likely that this effort was the source of the divisions. Paul wanted those brothers to know that they did not need to make those compromises. Though they may not be as wise as the Greeks, or so versed in the Jewish laws of rituals and superstitions, their faith in Christ was sufficient for salvation:

 

For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are.”

– 1 Corinthians 1:26-28 

 

    Paul is not telling them that God purposed to shame and embarrass people who are wise in a worldly way. He is telling them the Father recognizes how difficult it is for men who put faith in their mental prowess to accept the simple message of salvation. But if the so-called foolish ones could take hold of the Kingdom message and demonstrate the wisdom of God, the so-called wise ones might humble themselves and see the futility of their fleshly thinking.  And there was another reason:

 

[I]n order that no flesh might boast in the sight of God.  But it is due to him that you are in union with Christ Jesus, who has become to us wisdom from God, also righteousness and sanctification and release by ransom; that it may be just as it is written: ‘He that boasts, let him boast in Jehovah.’

– 1 Corinthians 1:29-31

 

    The Father wants us to rely on Him and not our own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5) When we think too much of our own wisdom, we block the reception of the wisdom from above because there is no room for it.  Brothers, there is so much we do not know.  But as long as we remain conscious of our spiritual need – our hunger for spiritual understanding – (Matthew 5:3) we will be allowing place and opportunity for the Father’s wisdom to reside.

 

The Humility of the Spiritual Man

 

    Paul set a fine example of humility with respect to understanding and teaching spiritual things:

 

And so I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come with an extravagance of speech or of wisdom declaring the sacred secret of God to you.  For I decided not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and him impaled.  And I came to you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling; and my speech and what I preached were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of spirit and power, that your faith might be, not in men’s wisdom, but in God’s power.”

– 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

 

    In preaching and teaching about the Christ, Paul did not resort to or rely upon authorities of men.  He did not consult with the Greek philosophers or the Jewish scribes, nor did he use such ‘authorities’ as the foundation for the Kingdom message.  He relied upon the life and teachings of Jesus himself, and on the power granted by God and dispensed by Jesus – the Spirit of Truth.  The reason he limited his sources to the Father and the Christ is so those who listended to him would not become followers of men.  That error is the very reason why divisions existed and were developing in the Corinthian congregation. He continues:

 

Now we speak wisdom among those who are mature, but not the wisdom of this system of things nor that of the rulers of this system of things, who are to come to nothing.  But we speak God’s wisdom in a sacred secret, the hidden wisdom, which God foreordained before the systems of things for our glory.  This [wisdom] not one of the rulers of this system of things came to know, for if they had known [it] they would not have impaled the glorious Lord.  But just as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, neither have there been conceived in the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him.’ For it is to us God has revealed them through his spirit, for the spirit searches into all things, even the deep things of God.”

 1 Corinthians 2:6-10

 

    Again, Paul was not teaching theories of men; he was teaching the ‘sacred secret’ that the Father revealed through Christ.  (See Hold Fast to the Sacred Secret and Foreordained from the Founding of the World for a further discussion of the Sacred Secret.)  And he attempts to sober up his readers when he says that he is speaking to ‘those who are mature.’ The spirit is revealing matters that are found only through a search into the ‘deep things of God.’ Spiritual babes cannot receive or comprehend those things. So prepare yourselves, brothers.  Paul is about to show you how to understand the ‘deep things of God.’

 

For who among men knows the things of a man except the spirit of man that is in him? So, too, no one has come to know the things of God, except the spirit of God.  Now we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been kindly given us by God.”

 1 Corinthians 2:11-12

 

    First, Paul illustrates why human wisdom alone cannot comprehend spiritual matters.  He explains that no one can tell you who you are or what you know unless you reveal it to them.  No amount of calculating, deducing, reasoning or meditating will allow another man to know you so intimately unless you openly tell them about yourself.  It is the same way with spiritual matters.  Because spiritual matters originate with the Father, who is a Spirit (John 4:24), the only way we can come to know them is if the Spirit of the Father reveals it.  Jesus’ life and teachings are that revelation.

 

    Next, Paul reveals the methodology of understanding the ‘deep things of God:’

 

These things we also speak, not with words taught by human wisdom, but with those taught by [the] spirit, as we combine spiritual [matters] with spiritual [words].”

 1 Corinthians 2:13

 

    What did Paul mean when he said to “combine spiritual matters with spiritual words?”  We believe the phrase carries the meaning that we are to build our spiritual understanding on the foundation of spiritual words – those words taught by the Father, through Jesus, and confirmed by the Spirit of Truth.  In other words, the foundation and the source of all spiritual understanding is the spiritual life of Jesus; and we build on that foundation with spiritual words and spiritual ideals.  This is made more clear in the following verses:

 

But a physical man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot get to know [them], because they are examined spiritually.”

– 1 Corinthians 2:14 

 

    Here, Paul refers to the physical man, just man in his natural form. A man who gets up, goes to work, eats meals, enjoys his family and friends, and engages in various entertaining pursuits. Just a typical person, living a typical life, not necessarily bad, just physical – without spiritual conviction. A physical man is not an uncommon man.  In fact, he is the most common type of man.  We see physical men and women everywhere we go.  We might even see one in the mirror.

 

    Paul says that such a person cannot get to know spiritual things because he does not have the capacity to examine them properly.  A physical man trusts only what his five senses can perceive.  If he can’t see it, hear it, taste it, smell it, or feel it, it simply isn’t real to him. It’s foolishness to him.

 

    But spiritual things are not subject to that kind of testing.  You cannot hear faith; you cannot touch love; you cannot taste or smell any of the fruits of the spirit; and you cannot see God.  Thus any endeavor to examine spiritual things by physical methods will lead a person to conclude that spiritual things are not real – that they are foolishness. But as Paul said, spiritual things are examined spiritually. So how do we examine things spiritually?

 

    One thing we know about a spiritual examination is that it is different from a physical examination. In other words, whereas a physical examination requires the use of the five senses, a spiritual examination does not. A physical examination can only take you so far because it is dependent on there being tangible things to examine. A spiritual examination begins where a physical examination leaves off because it is not examining tangible things at all.

 

    An illustration might better explain the difference. A physical examination looks at the art; a spiritual examination looks at the artist.  A physical examination looks at the science; a spiritual examination looks at the scientist. A physical examination looks at the building; a spiritual examination looks at the builder. In each instance, the physical examination looks only to the results; whereas the spiritual examination looks to the source, the meaning, the value.  That is why Paul could say in the next verse:

 

However, the spiritual man examines indeed all things, but he himself is not examined by any man.  For ‘who has come to know the mind of Jehovah, that he may instruct him?’ But we do have the mind of Christ.

–  1 Corinthians 2:15-16

 

    The mature person who learns to examine things spiritually has joined himself to the Father’s spirit by putting on the mind of Christ – the mind that unites us “in the same line of thought.”  Thus, the spiritual man cannot be rightly comprehended by way of any physical method, any more than a physical man could comprehend Jesus.

    

Spiritually Examining Divisions

 

    Having identified what a spiritual person is, and having explained how spiritual people are to view and examine things, Paul returns to his counsel to the Corinthians about divisions so as to allow them an opportunity to revisit their divisions, this time with a spiritual eye: 

 

And so, brothers, I was not able to speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to fleshly men, as to babes in Christ.  I fed you milk, not something to eat, for you were not yet strong enough.  In fact, neither are you strong enough now, for you are yet fleshly. For whereas there are jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and are you not walking as men do?  For when one says: ‘I belong to Paul,’ but another says: ‘I to Apollos,’ are you not simply men?”

 1 Corinthians 3:1-4

 

    Up until this point, Paul could not effectively counsel them or help them to understand that their inability to see beyond the flesh, and comprehend the spirit behind Jesus’ teachings, is the source of the divisions. He had to first explain how the spirit works and give them a new paradigm from which to look at life.  Having brought them to the precipice of a spiritual understanding, he could give his counsel:

 

What, then, is Apollos? Yes, what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, even as the Lord granted each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making [it] grow; so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes [it] grow. Now he that plants and he that waters are one, but each [person] will receive his own reward according to his own labor.  For we are God’s fellow workers. You people are God’s field under cultivation, God’s building.”

– 1 Corinthians 3:5-9

 

    Here, Paul makes his point – that we do not belong to anyone but the Father. Their divisions, and our divisions, are illusions based on fleshly, human reasoning.  He continues:
 

“According to the undeserved kindness of God that was given to me, as a wise director of works I laid a foundation, but someone else is building on it. But let each one keep watching how he is building on it. For no man can lay any other foundation than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on the foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood materials, hay, stubble, each one’s work will become manifest, for the day will show it up, because it will be revealed by means of fire; and the fire itself will prove what sort of work each one’s is.  If anyone’s work that he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward; if anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved; yet, if so, [it will be] as through fire."

– 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

 

    Here, Paul is explaining that there is no need to condemn the works of our brothers.  We are simply building with different materials – different doctrines and modes of behavior.  While these ‘materials’ may be destroyed by the tribulations of life, and their value revealed as valueless, if we keep our hearts – our spiritual lives – focused on the Father, we will still be saved though our works destroyed.  Do we understand what Paul is telling us?

 

    The important thing is not doctrine, but worship. Remember, the Father is looking for those who will worship Him with spirit and truth (John 4:23)not works and facts! Paul wanted the Corinthians to know their personal value to God regardless of which ‘fellow worker’ led them to the Father: 

 

Do you not know that you people are God’s temple, and that the spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] you people are.”

 1 Corinthians 3:16-17   

 

    He did not want us to be deceived into thinking that one association is better than another.

 

Let no one be seducing himself: If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this system of things, let him become a fool, that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; for it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their own cunning.’  And again: ‘Jehovah knows that the reasonings of the wise men are futile.’ Hence let no one be boasting in men; for all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things now here or things to come, all things belong to you; in turn you belong to Christ; Christ, in turn, belongs to God.”

– 1 Corinthians 3:16-23 

 

    All talk boasting about the superiority of our association – belonging to Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or Baptist, Catholic or Jehovah’s Witness – is foolishness to the Father.  As sons of God, all things belong to us, and nothing, “not the world or life or death or things now here or things to come,” can change that.

 

    Paul counseled them not to belittle themselves by engaging in petty squabbles overfacts, but to rejoice in the truth.  There is a huge difference!  (Please see our article Worshiping with Spirit and Truth.)  Paul did not concern himself with such trivial matters; instead, he left all such judging to the Father.

 

Let a man so appraise us as being subordinates of Christ and stewards of sacred secrets of God. Besides, in this case, what is looked for in stewards is for a man to be found faithful. Now to me it is a very trivial matter that I should be examined by you or by a human tribunal. Even I do not examine myself.  For I am not conscious of anything against myself. Yet by this I am not proved righteous, but he that examines me is Jehovah. Hence do not judge anything before the due time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring the secret things of darkness to light and make the counsels of the hearts manifest, and then each one will have his praise come to him from God.”

 1 Corinthians 4:1-5

 

    Paul used himself and Apollos as examples of spiritual men who remained in the teachings of the Christ.  He did not want them to get caught up in personal interpretations that ‘go beyond what is written’ so as to show one’s teachings as superior to the teachings of others:

 

Now, brothers, these things I have transferred so as to apply to myself and Apollos for your good, that in our case you may learn the [rule]: ‘Do not go beyond the things that are written,’ in order that you may not be puffed up individually in favor of the one against the other.  For who makes you to differ from another? Indeed, what do you have that you did not receive? If, now, you did indeed receive [it], why do you boast as though you did not receive [it]?”

 1 Corinthians 4:6-7

 

    He reminded them that no one has been appointed as king with authority to rule over God’s people, not even the apostles. For if such an appointment had been made, then all of us would be ruling as kings as well:

 

You men already have your fill, do you? You are rich already, are you? You have begun ruling as kings without us, have you? And I wish indeed that you had begun ruling as kings, that we also might rule with you as kings. For it seems to me that God has put us the apostles last on exhibition as men appointed to death, because we have become a theatrical spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.”

 1 Corinthians 4:8-9

 

    Rather than ‘lording it over the flock of God(1 Peter 5:2-3), Paul, partly sarcastically, explained that those taking the lead as ‘fellow workers with God’ should be modest servants.

 

We are fools because of Christ, but you are discreet in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are in good repute, but we are in dishonor.  Down to this very hour we continue to hunger and also to thirst and to be scantily clothed and to be knocked about and to be homeless and to toil, working with our own hands. When being reviled, we bless; when being persecuted, we bear up; when being defamed, we entreat; we have become as the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all things, until now.”

1 Corinthians 4:10-3

 

Concluding Counsel

 

    Paul took the time to counsel the Corinthian brothers in this way because he had a deep and sincere love for them, as a father remembering that he was dealing with spiritual babes:

 

I am writing these things, not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you may have ten thousand tutors in Christ, [you] certainly [do] not [have] many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have become your father through the good news. I entreat you, therefore, become imitators of me.  That is why I am sending Timothy to you, as he is my beloved and faithful child in [the] Lord; and he will put you in mind of my methods in connection with Christ Jesus, just as I am teaching everywhere in every congregation.”

– 1 Corinthians 4:14-17

 

    His reference to himself as their “father through the good news” was not an attempt to usurp or interfere in their relationship with the Father of All.  Instead, he was allowing himself to serve as an example of a spiritual man.  Sometimes we cannot fully comprehend counsel given only in speech.  Sometimes we need to see it in action.

 

    Paul let them know that he would be coming to see them face to face soon, and that the visit could be a loving and mild fellowship or one accompanied by discipline should they not heed the written counsel:

 

Some are puffed up as though I were in fact not coming to you, But I will come to you shortly, if Jehovah wills, and I shall get to know, not the speech of those who are puffed up, but [their] power. For the kingdom of God [lies] not in speech, but in power.  What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and mildness of spirit?

 1 Corinthians 4:18-21

 

    Apparently, Paul was a bit of a firecracker!   Having set the brothers straight as to the divisions that they allowed to spring up, he now turned his attention to the other reports he received about their conduct. The following chapters of this first letter address ways to combat the influence of the Greeks and strengthen their families and the congregation. (1 Corinthians 5:1-12:3) However, in chapter 12, he returns to the matter of unity.

 

    Here, Paul explains that not all Christians have the same gift.  There are a variety of ministries, yet they are all one because it is the same spirit that is operating in all of them:

 

Now there are varieties of gifts, but there is the same spirit;  and there are varieties of ministries, and yet there is the same Lord; and there are varieties of operations, and yet it is the same God who performs all the operations in all persons. But the manifestation of the spirit is given to each one for a beneficial purpose.  For example, to one there is given through the spirit speech of wisdom, to another speech of knowledge according to the same spirit, to another faith by the same spirit, to another gifts of healings by that one spirit, to yet another operations of powerful works, to another prophesying, to another discernment of inspired utterances, to another different tongues, and to another interpretation of tongues.  But all these operations the one and the same spirit performs, making a distribution to each one respectively just as it wills.

 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

 

    These various operations of spirit are evidence of the diversity in the Kingdom message and of how our brothers, though manifesting the spirit in different ways, are all united in the one body of Christ.

 

    It should not need to be said to spiritual people, but we will say that it is clear that when Paul is speaking of the united work of the spirit, he is referring to our brothers who are whole soul dedicated to the Father and to the Christ. Those who are not spiritual men and women are not being led by the spirit. (Romans 8:14) But the solution for such ones is not a doctrinal correction, but rather a spiritual correction. They need to understand their sonship with the Father, and our Father and the Christ will take care of the rest.

 

    Paul goes on to expound on our diverse unity in the remaining verses in chapter 12.  And he rounds out this letter with further uplifting counsel. We encourage you to read the remaining chapters of this first letter, chapters 13 - 16. The message we wanted to share in this 21st century is the need for Christian unity. Spiritual men and women should not let facts divides us, but we should let the truth unite us.    

 

    We learned from this letter that where the physical man sees divisions; the spiritual man sees unity. And when the physical man looks at Apollos, Paul, Cephas, he sees divisions; whereas the spiritual man sees only sons of God and disciples of Christ.

 

    We also learn that the things that appear to divide us – the things we build upon the foundation of Christ – will work themselves out.  We do not need to condemn our brothers because they are using ‘building materials’ that differ from our own.  Again, Paul is encouraging unity, not uniformity.  Racial, national, and social minds may differ, but all mankind is indwelt by the same divine and eternal spirit.

 

Do you not know that you people are God’s temple, and that the spirit of God dwells in you?”

– 1 Corinthians 3:16

 

    It is this commonality of spirit that unites us; and it is greater than anything that divides us – if we allow it to work on our behalf.  We will be able to ‘speak in agreement’ if we focus on the weightier spiritual matters instead of the things that can be examined physically.

 

    We pray that Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians moves all of our brothers of whatever faith to allow the spirit to operate on their associations and unite us all so that a greater witness can be given to those who have not found the Christ for themselves.

 

    We encourage our Christian brothers of differing associations to reach out to one another, if only share a Christian greeting.  And if the depth of our love allows, embrace one another and engage in a spiritual interchange with a view to finding our commonalities rather than drawing fictitious lines in the sand. Unless, of course, this sounds like foolishness to you.

 

    And may we all take Paul’s counsel to be ‘fitly united’ in this same mind – the mind of the Christ – and in the same line of thought – spiritual thoughts – all to the Father’s praise.  Amen.  We welcome your comments.

 

“Elaia Luchnia”


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