For the next few weeks I will share some of the Biblical basis for our conviction that ministries and churches should be in relationship with one another.
To do so, this week I will look at several verses in I Corinthians.
Division Stunts Our Growth
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food,for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men? I Corinthians 3:1-4
Paul makes it quite simple. There are some behaviors and attitudes that will stunt our spiritual growth. What are the behaviors that stunt our growth? They are jelousy, quarelling, and division against one another.
I grew up hearing these verses about “worldly” Christians or what the King James Version called “carnal” Christians. I was taught that it was speaking about believers who were caught up in the “bad sins” like sexual sin, drunkenness, and being out of fellowship. Read the verses though. It’s perfectly clear. Division is what stunts our growth.
Division Ruins Our Witness
But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers. I Corinthians 6:7,8
In chapter 6 of first Corinthians Paul is addressing the fact that Corinthian Christians were sewing one another. You can see in the verse six his primary concern: What does this look like to unbelievers? I find the next verse to be one of the most convicting in scripture when Paul says, “You’ve been completely defeated already.” Whoa!
When Christians groups on campus are competing with one another and speaking bad of one another, students notice and Jesus is made less attractive. Division ruins our witness.
Division Causes God To Resist Us
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God. I Corinthians 8:1-3
In chapter 8 of first Corinthians Paul is addressing the problem of meat sacrificed to idols. It was the most divisive issue in the Christian community at that time. In general the division was between gentile believers and Jewish believers. Paul tries to raise the debate to another level – one of pride vs. humility.
Those who think they “know” something or have the right theological understanding on an issue do not “know” as they ought to “know.” What they should know is that love is more important than knowledge because knowledge leads to “puffs up” (pride) but love and humility “build up.”
Here, in my opinion, is the biggest reason for unity. “God resists the proud but give grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34). When there is spiritual pride, God will actually resist us! Remember this, the first condition for revival… “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and…” II Chronicles 7:14.
The essence of unity is humility. When Campus Renewal Ministries speaks about uniting the Body of Christ on a campus we are really speaking about campus ministry leaders growing in humility toward one another. This humility is what changes the spiritual climate of a campus.
Justin Christopher is Campus Renewal Ministries’s National Campus Director and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He facilitates CRM’s Partnering Campus Project and also gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.