Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not!
So Paul’s advice to us is very necessary. It may not ‘suit’ people to belong to the local congregation, (after all there are probably some difficult folk there, and the teaching and worship don’t appeal to me, blah, blah …) Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
Unity in a congregation and locality does not just happen, it has to be worked at; look at the way Paul expresses it: Be patient, … making allowance for each other’s faults….. Make every effort to keep yourselves united, binding yourselves together with peace.
Let’s not restrict ourselves to thinking about the wider community; this unity starts in a congregation, or even a growth group. Learning patiently to love and work with even a small group has its moments. (Think Growth Group, Café Team, Musicians, … you name a group you belong to!)
A Pastor will tell you that dissention and inability to work together in a small group is a serious issue. It takes prayerful, loving, gentle patience to build a team of Christians to work together in the service of God’s Kingdom.
Lord, help me to be a builder and unifier, a welcomer and includer, rather than a destructive criticiser. AMEN