A Devotional Journey
led by Dr. Gene Pearson
Thru the Bible in a Year
Paul was acknowledged as author of this book as early as AD 96.
It was written about AD 55, from Ephesus (see 16:8). The city had a population of about 650,000 people (400,000 of whom were slaves!), and was known for its immorality, partially because of the many seamen who came here with ships that were hauled across the isthmus, and also because of the infamous temple of Aphrodite (the goddess of love), whose ceremonies involved sacred prostitution and included at least 1,000 ‘sacred’ prostitutes.
Members of the household of Chloe had informed Paul of problems in the church,
and so the letter. The primary concerns were 1) division in the church, 2) immorality 3) abuse of the Lord’s Supper, 4) false teaching, and 5) the need to help other Christians.
Paul moves immediately from typical (for him) greetings and thanksgiving
for the believers to a discussion of divisions in the church: “I appeal to you ... in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
The argument begins with an appeal for humility
(always a key to unity in human organizations), to wisdom beyond the normal Greek kind to that revealed in Christ by the Holy Spirit, with a reminder of how much God has already done to change their lives (1:26).
Division among Christians has always been a source of pain to God.
We are called to set aside
our own interests on behalf of others, and instead of envying them or feeling superior to them, we are to pray for God’s transforming power to work in their lives and make them as He wishes them to be – but also, at the same time, that we would become more patient, kind, compassionate, forgiving and encouraging in all our relationships and attitudes.
The basis of division in the church of Jesus Christ is always the same
: a sense of pride and human arrogance that sets itself above the need for faith and which seeks to dominate and take control of the ongoing process of development in the church. The issues may vary, from concern for ‘appearances’ to shock at doctrinal ‘deficiencies’ to rejection of other people’s ‘weaknesses and inadequacies,’ but always the desired outcome is the same: some person or group seeks to become more important than God has called them to be.
What are you doing to increase the unity of the Church?
The number one thing is to get so close to God that His Holy Spirit can work in your own heart and cause you to grow in His grace (and graciousness). The next thing is to become an encourager to those in positions of leadership, helping them accomplish the ministry they have been called to, and enabling them to spend more time listening to God’s voice themselves.
The next thing is to become a leader, as God directs, and work cooperatively with other leaders to move the church closer to Christ.
Forms and approaches are seldom the issue; efficiency and apparent effectiveness are not either.
The key to success (and unity) in the Church is closeness to God.
As Paul says, His Spirit is the one who should lead. Today, ask God to draw you closer to Him, then do something to encourage a Christian leader you know.
© A. Eugene Pearson