"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 united in the same mind and the same purpose." - 1 Corinthians 1:10
Last year I was immersed in the study of Paul's letters as I prepared a Bible study on Romans. My biggest surprise was how important Christian unity was for Paul. Unity was an essential quality of their belonging to Christ. Where there was disunity, the very nature and purpose of the church was called into question.
This got me thinking about the erosion of Christian unity in my lifetime. When I was growing up in the 1950's and 60's there was real passion for Christian unity.
It was out of this ecumenical passion that our United Church of Christ was created in 1957 as a "united and uniting church" with its motto coming from Jesus' prayer "That they may all be one."
That kind of passion for unity seems hard to find these days. Local congregations compete for members. Denominations stress their unique "brand" that marks them as different (and better) than other churches.
In so many ways we stress our differences rather than what we have in common. And those who share Christ have a lot in common! Because we belong to Christ we belong to each other. How might we look beyond our differences to be in unity with others who share faith in Jesus Christ?
Heal our unholy divisions, O God, that the world may see and know our unity in Christ.
Richard L. Floyd is Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and author of A Course In Basic Christianity and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross: Reflections on the Atonement. He blogs at richardlfloyd.com.