Summary: Signs or benchmarks of spiritual maturity - The mature believer unites people rather than creating division.
Grow Up! - Measuring Your Spiritual Maturity
Measure #1: Are You a Uniter, or a Divider
1 Corinthians 1:10-18 – September 1, 2013
Being a follower of Christ should help us get along with others. One young lady testified to that fact when she said, “I had an uncle that I disliked so much I said I wouldn’t even attend his funeral. But now that I’m a Christian, I’d be happy to attend his funeral.”
Seriously, it sends a terrible message to the world around us when people who claim to be followers of the Prince of Peace are divided against one another.
In Bethlehem, on the very spot where they believe the baby Jesus was born, there is a 1,500 year old church -- the Church of the Nativity. And the church is cared for by monks from the Greek Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Armenian Church. The monks have divided up the care of the church between the three groups.
Christmas is a busy time in that church as people flock to see and worship at the place where Jesus was born - the child who came with angels proclaiming “peace on earth.” But after Christmas in 2011, a big fight broke out in the church. The three different sets of monks were cleaning up the church when they got in a brawl -- yelling at each other, hitting each other with brooms and fists. The riot police were calling in, and two of the policemen were injured in the fight. Evidently one of the groups cleaned a spot in the church that one of the other groups said was their area to clean.
Personally, when someone starts cleaning something that I’m supposed to clean, I’m happy to back off and let them do their thing. But it is a reminder that, as followers of Christ, we can become divided over the most ridiculous things, and make ourselves a joke in the eyes of the world around us.
A research project was done a few years back to examine the difference between churches that were thriving and growing, and churches that were stagnant or dying. And the #1 factor, the most powerful determiner of growth vs. decline was this one thing: conflict. No other factor will kill a church faster than a spirit of divisiveness.
So today I want you to understand why division is so tremendously destructive to a church family and to your personal witness and spiritual life…
• If you want to have any impact on your world,
• if you want to lead others toward Christ instead of away from Him,
• if you want to be closer to Christ yourself…
…you need to grow out of the immaturity of being a divider, and into the spiritually mature role of being a uniter.
The church in Corinth was a church that was filled with spiritual immaturity, and we don’t even get out of chapter 1 before Paul is having to deal with it. Paul says that there is “division” in the church. He uses the Greek word “schism,” which literally means “a rip or a tear.” The church is being ripped apart by this conflict. But what is that conflict?