Summary: Exposition of 1 Cor 1:10-17 regarding Paul's desire for the church to be without division and perfectly joined together
Text: 1 Cor 1:10, Title: Perfectly Joined Together, Date/Place: NRBC, 7/4/10, AM
A. Opening illustration: An African proverb says, "When elephants fight, grass gets trampled." The church at Corinth had been nurtured by two of the world’s greatest evangelists: Paul and Apollos. Their individual followers were displeased with each other, disrespected each other, and distant from each other. This strained the fellowship in the church, neglected the work of the gospel, hurt the name of the church in the community, and destroyed any hope of possible reconciliation. On the sheet that listed the PROBLEMS, such things were listed as: • Should not serve coffee in church • Should serve more coffee in church • Should have shorter sermons • Should have longer sermons • The music we have is terrible • It’s terrible we don’t have more music like what we have On the sheet with the heading of WHAT IS NEEDED, things were listed like: • Need to spend money on more chairs • We don’t need to spend any more money • Pitch all the songs and start over • We need a new preacher We can see the humor in that illustration, but there is something else we can see, too. We can see the unhappiness of those in the church. We can see the lack of unity as a body of Christians, and there is one more thing … we can see a church that has dropped the ball in its teachings, because nobody mentioned Jesus Christ. I would say the biggest problem that church had was that everybody was focused on what they wanted, and nobody was focused on what Jesus wanted
B. Background to passage: Here in the text this morning Paul begins to deal with the first item up for bid: division in the body. In fact he continues this thought for about four chapters, giving different angles and solutions. It is one of the lengthiest subjects in the book, and a constant theme even after chapter four. Notice as we begin that Paul is pleading with them, rather than using his apostolic authority; probably because he wants them to want to be right with God and each other rather than having a less than genuine veneer of unity. And he pleads with them in the name of Christ, which is the ground of their unity as well as the means for their unity. And Christ is also the authority that commands and desires that believers be one. And in the remainder of the text…
C. Main thought: he defines the problem of division and lack of unity in this church, both positively and negatively, coming back time and again in the next several chapters to deal with it
A. No Divisions and Fights (v. 10-11)
1. It can’t be determined with certainty whether the fights caused the divisions, or the divisions caused the fights; probably the latter. But it seems that groups of people in the church were impressed with the wisdom, teaching styles, personalities, agendas, or popularity of particular leaders in the church. And therefore were having more than just debates about who they “followed.” These are not matters of theology, but of personal interest. This caused great division (word here is schisms, it means a rent or tear) in the fellowship of the church. These fights where quarrels of a political nature, jockeying for position and prominence. Both of these things are completely contrary to the Christian faith.
3. Illustration: tell of Mike Flower’s church and the divisions there. 100 years of Christian fellowship, unity, and community outreach ended last Tuesday in an act of congregational discord. Holy Creek Baptist Church was split into multiple factions. The source of dissension is a piano bench which still sits behind the 1923 Steinway piano to the left of the pulpit. Members and friends at Holy Creek Baptist say that the old bench was always a source of hostility. People should have seen this coming. At present, Holy Creek Congregation will be having four services each Sunday. There has been an agreement mediated by an outside pastor so that each faction will have its own separate service with its own separate pastor. Since the head pastor is not speaking to the associate pastors, each will have their own service, which will be attended by factioned members. The services are far enough apart that neither group will come into contact with the other. An outside party will be moving the piano bench to different locations and appropriate positions, between services, so as to please both sides, and avoid any further conflict that could result in violence, "There is in the human race some dark spirit of recalcitrance, always pulling us in the direction contrary to that in which we are reasonably expected to go."