Are We One in the Spirit?

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you but that you be knit together in the same mind and the same purpose. (1 Corinthians 10:10)

I have worked in the church for almost 4 decades. Much of that has been in congregations as a parish pastor. But much has also been as a consultant to other congregations in my roles on a synod staff, on the national churchwide staff and as a church consultant. There is nothing uglier that a serious church fight.

The congregation where I first served was aging and angry. There had been issues of power, control and trust too numerous to give details to here. While people talk me they wanted a new way of being church when I arrived, I quickly found that they had a number of visions about what that meant. While there were some wonderful people there, there were also people who had become bitter and mean-spirited. They wanted to decide what church would be and enforce it with their authority.

It took over three years in that setting to get things turned around – realigning the ministry of the congregation with God’s call to continue the ministry of Jesus in that community. They were difficult years to get through. But when it was done, the church had a resurrection and began to do some amazing work.

The Apostle Paul is writing to a church like that. The people in Corinth had formed a new Christian community and then began to struggle for control. Who would be in charge? Factions formed. The church became divided and divisive. BY the time Paul writes to them, he is thoroughly disgusted with what has happened and he writes to them to help them realign their ministry with Jesus again.

A healthy ministry regularly reflects on what God wants and asks, “How are we called to be faithful in this time and place?” and “What does it mean to continue Jesus’ work here?” In our congregation we remind ourselves of that unity and calling in a simple phrase, “Grounded in Christ and sent to be a blessing.” As long as we remain rooted in Jesus and see ourselves as here to be agents of God’s blessings in the world, we’re likely to stay on track and not need Paul to write us our own letter setting us right. Keep your eyes on Jesus!

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