Summary: The first disease that we see the church must deal with is “Cancer” and the first aspect of this cancer we must understand is its propensity for “Unhealthy Multiplication.”
PRESCIPTIONS FOR A HEALTHY & HOLY CHURCH:
A Study in 1 Corinthians Applied To The Church Today
Sunday AM, January 22, 2005 Rev. Todd G. Leupold
II. DEALING WITH THE OBVIOUS DISEASES - 1 Corinthians 1:4 - 6:20
CANCER (Divisions in the church) - 1:10 – 4:21
1.Unhealthy Multiplication (too many independent sub-groups) - 1:10-17
Illus: A woman driving over the Cascade Range in Oregon ran into a snowstorm and became very frightened. Then she peered ahead and saw a snowplow. Whoopee! She closely followed the snowplow while it removed snow from the road. At times the heavy snowfall almost cut off her view, but her faithful guide kept on leading the way. After some time, the plow stopped, and its driver got out and walked over to her car.
“Lady, where are you going?” he asked.
“I’m on my way to Central Oregon” she replied.
“Well, you’re never going to get there following me! I’m plowing this parking lot!”
It really does matter who we follow and where they are going, doesn’t it! Even so, it’s not always about the “who.” Sometimes it’s an idea, philosophy, strategy or plan. It may be our own, it may be another’s. We follow it diligently, but in the end we go nowhere!
Illus: Or, sometimes it’s like being an NFL running back who has been handed the ball only to discover that his teammates aren’t all running the same play. As a result, he is forced to run (demonstrate) to and fro, side to side and in circles trying to find a hole to run through. In the end, he has run the equivalent of 10 yards only to discover that it was all sideways and backwards – the line of scrimmage hasn’t changed! Have you ever felt like that in your own life?
As introduced last week, we are embarking on a new sermon series based on 1 Corinthians, “Prescriptions For A Healthy & Holy Church.” Last week, we received what we called the “Medical History” of the Corinthian church. The problems in the Corinthian church were not so much a matter of theological heresy, but rather a problem of pride and immaturity. In response, Paul – inspired by the Holy Spirit- sent this prescriptive letter to help cure their ills.
This week we begin the first major section of 1 Corinthians, which we refer to as “Dealing With The Obvious Diseases.” The first disease that we see the church must deal with is “Cancer” and the first aspect of this cancer we must understand is its propensity for “Unhealthy Multiplication.”
Think about it, what is cancer? As a byproduct of our daily activities (such as breathing and digesting) our bodies produce harmful molecules know as “free radicals.” These free radicals are unattached oxygen molecules that are searching for something to bind with. When the body is functioning properly, it has ways to keep these free radicals from binding or to get rid of them altogether. But sometimes, the body’s defenses break down and the free radicals are allowed to latch themselves onto healthy cells, causing them to become unstable. Once “hijacked”, the cancer then re-programs the cell to give it a new ownership, a new identity and new marching orders. Suddenly, the cells aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing. They take on a new role, they mutate, they don’t know when to stop and they keep dividing and reproducing more such cells. The result? When these cells are left alone or inadequately dealt with, they continue to multiply, the body begins to have problems functioning properly, organs are damaged or destroyed and the whole body may ultimately die. Even where survival is possible, it requires very strong medicine that can cause more pain and discomfort before it cures.
Folks there is also such a thing as spiritual cancer in the church. It functions much the same way as biological cancer and it is what we will be addressing here this morning and the next several weeks.
SCRIPTURE READING: 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 (“The Message”)
I.THE PRIMACY OF UNITY (v. 10)
* We’ve all heard it said, any time a group of people spend enough time together, there ARE going to be disagreements. But, must disagreements denigrate into disunity, whining, polarizing and feuds?
* In their book about conflict resolution, “Tell It To The Church”: Lynn Buzzard & David C. Cook (1982) provide a list of surefire ways to turn a disagreement into a feud:
1.Be sure to develop and maintain a healthy fear of conflict. Keeping it all inside of yourself until you explode in anger.
2.If you must state your concerns, be as vague and general as possible.
3.Never divulge the names of anyone that makes a statement to you. This will ensure that it can’t be verified that you heard it and are repeating it correctly.