This September, each Monday I will write about the topic of unity. I hope to help bring clarity to what it actually means to be united in campus ministry. There are many misconceptions about unity, and there are even harmful ways of pursuing unity. I hope these four posts can help students and campus ministers move toward unity in a Biblical, practical way. First, let’s look at how division affects the spiritual climate of our campus by looking at some scriptures in I Corinthians. These thoughts are developed much further in my upcoming book, Campus Renewal – A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission.
Division Stunts Our Growth – I Cor. 3: 1-4
Paul tells the Corinthians that he could not address them as spiritual men, but only as mere infants in Christ. He said he had to feed them milk, not solid food. “For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one of you says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men?” Paul believed that division prevented the church from growing.
The body of Christ cannot grow while there are divisions. When our loyalty is to an organization, a denomination, or a theological framework more than to Christ and His Church on campus, we cannot grow. Just as sin can stunt the growth of an individual follower of Christ, so the sin of division can stunt the growth of the whole Church. God cannot move the Body into the deeper things of God until our posture toward one another changes.
Division Defeats Us – I Cor. 6:7,8
The Corinthian believers were taking each other to court and suing one another. Paul tells them, “The very fact that you lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already.” Paul saw this type of division as a clear sign that the church of Corinth could not accomplish its mission. The enemy had already won.
He went on to say, “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” For the sake of the Kingdom, Paul would rather be wronged and forgive his brothers than take them to court. The advancement of the Kingdom of God on our campuses must be a greater priority than our personal rights or feelings. For the sake of the Kingdom, we must overlook offenses and forgive one another.
Division Creates Pride – I Cor. 8:1-3
When it came to the divisive theological issue of the day, meat sacrificed to idols, Paul told the Corinthians that “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” He said that knowledge leads to pride, but love leads to growth. Paul believed that the Corinthians were asking the wrong question. Instead of asking, “What should we believe about meat sacrificed to idols?” they should have been asking, “How can we love those who think differently than us on this issues?”
Debating theological issues is unproductive because it leads to pride. Proverbs 3:34 says, “God opposes the proud but give grace to the humble.” If we pursue being “right” more than we pursue love, we will find that God is actually opposing us. Loving those with different viewpoints should be our first priority.