When we examine the Pauline letters, we see that Paul often wrote to address a problem in the local church that was reported to him. Some problems were unique to one local church, other problems seem to be evident in one form or another in every congregation. Such similarity in issues is noted in how Paul used different words to say the same thing to different churches.
Among the problems that plagued the early church was division. Division in methodology, division in the role of men and women, division in whom to follow, division on matters of food, drink, and attire. Some of the more serious issues were divisions on how to handle sinful behavior and the proper attitude to have when celebrating the Lord’s supper. These divisions had a negative impact on the church’s purpose, testimony, and proclamation of the gospel.
When writing to the Corinthian church, Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 1:10, [No I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the name of Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.] His call for unity addressed one of the issues in the chapter three of 1Corinthians. After basically telling them they were not acting in a mature fashion (defined as acting in a fleshly manner rather than a spiritual one) he went on to say in 1Corinthians 3:3-4, [for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like ordinary people? For when one person says, “I am with Paul,” and another, “I am with Apollos”, are you not ordinary people?] Paul’s use of the word “ordinary” was not complimentary. Other of his writings, in harmony with other New Testament authors, stipulate that children of God, disciples of Christ, and proclaimers of the gospel, are anything but ordinary. I say this not in a personal prideful manner, but being a follower of Christ means we are called to be extraordinary people. We are called to be extraordinary in purpose, in our testimony, and in how we treat each other.
Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:9 [What has been, it is what will be, and what has been done, it is what will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.] One of the principles put forth in that text is that we will repeat many of our mistakes thinking they are somehow new ones. Today, in the church we are practicing the division that Paul spoke against with the words, “I am for masks”, and “I am against masks”; “I am pro-vaccine”, “I am anti-vaccine”. Each view is supported by things that have been written, medical experts that support one view or another, and, to be honest, by people (on both sides) that should just be quiet. We seem to be blind to the fact that in our zeal to champion our particular view, we are in disharmony, provide a picture of division to non-Christians, and hamper the proclamation of the gospel by polluting it with issues that have nothing to do with the message of Christ as savior. We need to remember our calling, our purpose and that we are not to behave as ordinary people.
All my blessings, Vic