One of the sad realities of the Christian church is that we are too often known for fighting amongst ourselves. Now I know that some divisions can be necessary in cases of true heresy. However I wonder how often that is really the case. For example as a young man I remember sitting in a church business meeting in one church where 30 intense minutes were spent passionately debating what temperature the thermostat should be set at during worship. The issue was only settled after the clerk reminded the congregation that they had already voted on that matter four months prior. Yikes!
1Cor. 1:10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord 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.
What if the real reason for our tensions was much simpler and darker than theological drift. What if it came down to pride, preference and old-fashioned selfishness? We see an example of this in the early church at Corinth.
They had taken their eyes off of Jesus and on each other. As a result their fleshy thinking degenerated to pride. They were arguing over who was better. Favorite teachers and the views or approaches they represented became the dividing lines. Law or grace. Traditional or newfangled. Polished or down to earth? Different people liked different approaches and seemed to make their preferences a point of division. Each group took a position of superiority over the others. Their comparison games created prideful divisions that damaged their ability to represent Jesus in their culture!
We would never do that today would we? Which ministry is more important? Which style of small group is best? Which witnessing approach? Which local pastor? Which Christian radio station? Which radio preacher? Should I go on? Most things in our culture are set up on competition and ranking. If we aren’t careful we bring that to our spiritual family in very unhealthy ways. Who is best and who is most important can have no healthy answer but Jesus.
This week’s lesson takes a look at the core truths that should prevent this from happening. The very nature of our life in Jesus should keep us from it. Sadly our old nature remains with us in this life. As you prepare for Sunday, reflect on how you have seen divisiveness and unity work among God’s people. How should our common bond in Christ impact our relationships & attitudes within the larger Christian family?
In the weekend services, we begin a new study on the biblical book of 1 Corinthians. I have called it Modern Church Family because like the messed up family of that show, it addresses the variety of ways a church can mess up. If we can learn to recognize these pitfalls, perhaps we can step out of them and experience the kind of church that Jesus wants us to be. NO church is perfect. All are in motion. I invite you to join me in this study as we learn together about what Jesus wants when He looks at our church family.