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.”1 Corinthians 1:10-12 NIV
After reading this I can only wonder what Paul might have to say to the church of today. I have a copy of the 14th edition of Handbook of Denominations in the United States. This book describes over 200 distinct Christian denominations currently active in the US. And no doubt there are many more worldwide. Why are there so many? Many of the divisions concern issues of polity, how they operate as a church. Others divisions are caused because of doctrinal disagreement. Sometimes the disagreements are major, but often they are relatively minor. But regardless the cause, we are far away from Paul’s concern that there be no divisions among us.
Division Within a Local Church
While it is true that divisions in the universal church are a sad reality, I think Paul was more focused here on the local church at Corinth. This church, or collection of house churches, was divided. They seemed not to be divided over doctrine or polity. But rather over who was the superior leader. Some favored Paul, While others favored Apollos or Peter. And the most ‘spiritual’ among them identified with Jesus.
Is it wrong for us to have favorite preachers or teachers? I don’t believe so. We all learn in different ways, and different teachers are able to reach different people more effectively. But what is wrong is when you divide into groups and look down on those who ‘follow’ someone else that you do not consider as worthy of following.
It is sad and unfortunate when the church is divided. Especially when the division is caused because of allegiance to individuals rather than to Jesus. We should be perfectly united in mind and thought. Look to Christ, the head of the body. And be united with those around you in serving and glorifying our head.