I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.”
Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not! (NLT)
We read of political parties being divided into factions. In some cases it seems the primary loyalty is to the faction rather than the entire party. This seemed to be the case in Corinth, where the local church was apparently split into groups which took pride in association with certain personalities.
Paul points out that such divisions are badly mistaken. Of course we may particularly admire and respect certain leaders and be attracted to certain personalities. God grants us distinctive personalities and it is wrong to flatten them out or ignore them. As long as we don’t give ultimate allegiance to one leader, one writer, one speaker, one counsellor.
Not all personalities are benign. The most dangerous cults are often centred on controlling and egocentric personalities. Our personalities can enhance gospel work and give flavour to any church community, but only as long as they are subservient to the wider goal of growing to maturity in Christ.
If our focus is on Jesus, there can be harmony. If our focus is on personalities, there is likely to be division. We don’t deny our unique personalities and gifts but we ensure they don’t divert attention away from the God who gave us these things in the first place.