We can be different but also united.
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
1 Corinthians 1:10
I met Kurt first. I was in the office of Pastor Tim and it was my first time visiting the campus of Concordia Wisconsin. I was about to transfer from a local college to Concordia for my sophomore year.
As my meeting with Pastor Tim (the campus pastor) was wrapping up, Kurt came in. He was Pastor Tim’s next appointment.
Pastor Tim introduced us. I was excited to hear that Kurt was going to be in the same field of study I was – pastoral ministry.
Kurt tells the story of our first meeting as one of feeling a bit intimidated. Here I was, six feet four inches and about 250 pounds with an enormous cast on my left arm (I had broken my wrist a few weeks before).
I’ve never forgotten that first meeting, nor did I anticipate at that meeting that Kurt and I would be best friends for the next 34 years!
After we both moved into the dorms (he was in one dorm, I was in another one on the other side of the small campus), he introduced me to three other pastoral ministry students. Jeff, Mark and Steve.
We were in the same program of study. But there was one big difference. They were all from Iowa and I was not!
To this day, we are all best friends. But they never let me forget that I am not from Iowa!
Still, we do share a common love – the love of singing and, through singing, telling others about Jesus.
For the next seven years, Kurt, Jeff, Mark, Steve and I sang together as The Master’s Voice.
And even though we had distinct differences – they being Iowans and Green Bay Packer fans – our common love of singing and sharing Jesus united us as best friends.
So much so that we are anticipating a reunion later this summer (2018) for singing, laughing, and rejoicing in our friendship.
This is, I think, what St. Paul was getting at when he appealed to the Christians at Corinth to have no divisions amongst themselves.
Certainly, they would have differences. All people certainly do.
But some of the Christians there were allowing certain differences to divide them into camps of animosity. It seems that they almost were following certain personality figures instead of being united by the Holy Spirit.
My friends and I could have fallen into this trap. Their “Iowa-ness” and “Packer fandom” could have pushed me away. Instead of being their friend, I could have found others more like me – from Illinois and a fan of the Chicago Bears.
But we never let those differences get in the way of our friendship. And what united us was far greater than our differences.
The Uniting Power of the Holy Spirit
That is what the Holy Spirit does. He calls us to faith by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Calls all Christians by the same Gospel.
Even though Christians come from all corners of the globe and from vastly different cultures, we are united by the same Gospel and the same mission.
We are to tell people about Jesus. His cross, his death, and his resurrection is the Gospel power that brings us all together no matter what differences we have.
This can only happen by the power of God the Holy Spirit and that is exactly what he does!
Heavenly Father, your infinite love restores to the right way those who err, seeks the scattered, and preserves those whom you have gathered. Of your tender mercy pour out on your faithful people the grace of unity that all your flock may be gathered to the true Shepherd of your Church and may serve you in all faithfulness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
© 2018 True Men Ministries