Lim Chien Chong, National Director – Singapore
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: one of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptise any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptised in my name. (Yes, I also baptised the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptised anyone else. For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel – not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 1 Cor 1:10-17
An old Chinese man had three sons. None of the boys would look out for the others, and the father was deeply concerned about their selfish attitude.
On his deathbed, the man called his three sons to his side. He asked each of them to take a chopstick and break it in front of one another. They did it effortlessly. He then asked each of them to bring a bundle of chopsticks and try breaking it. None could do it.
He then explained that, like the chopsticks, their lives could be easily torn apart if they stood as individuals. If they would unite, however, they would be a formidable force to be reckoned with. The sons recognised their mistake and promised their father they would be more united.
This story, though a little simplistic, has a special place in the hearts of many Chinese. In an Oriental culture, unity in a community is highly valued. The country should come before the family and the family before the individual.
The Bible teaches about unity too. But unlike the Eastern world-view, the premise and the practice are entirely different. As followers of Jesus, we are to be united in mind and thought. This simply means that we are to develop a common understanding of biblical principles, as well as a common set of values by which decisions are made.
But how do we do that? First, we must establish from Scripture a correct understanding and a correct set of values. Second, we must be willing to communicate patiently and precisely to sharpen one another’s understanding and to clarify one another’s values.
The phrase “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:10) should guide the way we treat other followers of the Lord. He alone can bring about true unity.
In Jesus, unity can be our reality.
- What are some causes of quarrels, fights, and divisions?
- How can I promote greater unity in my church and among my Christian friends?
- What are some pitfalls I should avoid?