V 10. I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
Singing in harmony usually means lots of different notes, but they fit together pleasantly. With harmony, nothing jars in spite of the differences. That is what Paul seems to be driving at when he writes about church life. We are very different people, with differing gifts and abilities, coming from a huge variety of social and cultural backgrounds. Whether we hailed from the old-style Council Estate, or the plush new gated community, or we did 10 GCSEs and 4 A levels, or none at all, or we drive a supercar or old banger, Paul appeals to us to live in harmony. This means walking in the same life-direction, and living by the same life-principles. Our common purpose is to honour God in our daily lives wherever He puts us. There are so many different ways of doing this as to beggar description, but our motives and our aims should not cause division but rather match so as to draw us together.
One of the greatest obstacles to this in our times is the tendency to promote individualism in society. We stress the needs of the individual and the rights of the individual. The notion of ‘Community’ is no longer a highly valued principle in some quarters when it comes to political or social planning. (It may not even affect our political affiliation and shopping habits nowadays. I was struck while travelling this year through villages in The Dolomites how often the local Cooperative store served these smaller communities. Was that significant politically I wondered?)
So how do you value your local community? And more to the point, how do you value your Church community, and how can you work in harmony with other members of it?