United in the (whole) Truth
by Burk Parsons
We are prone to partiality. It is our habit not only to have preferences but to establish ourselves and pride ourselves in the preferences we choose. We play favorites and then rally around our favorites as we strive to demonstrate why our favorites should be everyone’s favorites. Being partial, having preferences, and playing favorites isn’t inherently wrong, so long as our partiality, preferences, and favorites are in accord with sacred Scripture. Problems quickly emerge, however, when we begin to play favorites with Scripture itself.
Paul boldly confronted the Corinthians on this very matter when he wrote at the outset of his epistle: “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. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, ‘I follow Paul,’ or ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Cephas,’ or ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1:10–13). The Corinthians were playing favorites with the apostles and their teachings. Individual Christians within the church were holding up one apostle’s teachings over those of another, thereby creating unnecessary and, thus, unbiblical divisions within the body of Christ, which cannot be truly divided any more than can Christ Himself.
Even now, though we would never admit it, we play favorites with the apostles and their teachings. We rally around our favorite New Testament epistles to the exclusion of others and sometimes wind up being unnecessarily divided within the body of Christ. Paul doesn’t trump Peter, Peter doesn’t trump John, and John doesn’t trump James. In His sovereign wisdom, God was quite partial in providing us with a beautiful array of inspired epistles on all matters pertaining to life and godliness, to the end that we would glorify Him and enjoy Him forever as one, united body of Christ, because of the truth, not in spite of it.