Summary: Being a Christian church means following Jesus command to make disciples of people of all nations, which means we will be a community of diverse people. We explore why this is important, what it means for us and how to live with differences in our church
There is something important for everyone in our congregation to think deeply about.
Do you see differences as a blessing or a problem?
How you answer this question is important, as it will influence how you live and act.
It will influence how you be part of the church.
The church in Corinth had a major problem.
And the problem wasn’t differences, but how people responded to these differences.
Our reading from 1 Corinthians chapter 1 verses 10 to 18 indicated that there were at least four factions within the congregation.
Verse 12 says
What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
and these factions had led to quarrels and arguments.
The reality was Paul, Apollos and Cephas had all preached the Gospel.
They had all helped others see that Jesus was their only hope for a future and eternal life.
However some people were saying Paul’s style was the best or most important, others Apollos’ style was the most important, others Cephas’ style the most important and others their interpretation of Christ’s style the most important.
The problem was instead of seeing the different way people present and hear the message of Christ as a blessing and helpful to people connecting to God they were using them to cause division.
And when it comes to our congregation there are differences
One of the great things about our congregation is that we have a diverse range of people
We have old people, middle aged people and young people
We have those who loving playing and listening to traditional music and those who love and play contemporary music
We have older people and there are younger people
We have people from different backgrounds and experiences
We have people with different talents and gifts
and the more I think about it there are lots of differences in our congregation
There are many differences in our congregation.
So how are you responding to the differences in our congregation?
Do you see them as a blessing??
Unfortunately some people think that the best way to deal with differences is to eliminate them by either forcing everyone to be the same or excluding or demonising those who are different from you.
This is because they see differences as a problem.
The truth is this would make for a very lonely church.
Taken to the extreme you would be part of a church where only you would be the member.
But this is not Jesus’ approach
Nor is it the way the early church dealt with its differences.
Take a few moments to consider who Jesus spent time with…..
Think about his first 12 disciples…they weren’t all the same characters
He regularly spent time with the Pharisees, tax collectors, adulaters, people who were not popular, people with diseases, his disciples, Jews and Gentiles, women, men and children, and there is a lot more
And his reason for spending time with every person he met, was so they could hear and experience the Good News and have the opportunity to join His kingdom.
Being prepared to spend time with people who are different from you is part of our call in being disciples who make disciples of all nations.
Now also consider the discussion that Paul has with various churches about the Body of Christ.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 12
We are reminded that Christ is the head of the body and there are different parts that make up the body.
And not every part is the same but they are all important.
Please keep remembering this
not every member of God’s church is the same, but we are all important.
2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 15 reminds us of the following:
And Jesus died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Jesus who died for them and was raised again.
Because God is focussed on giving salvation to all people….His church should include a lot of different people
Differences for both Jesus and the Early Church are not a problem….
Rather in Jesus coming to earth God made it very clear that our mission as His disciples is to all people, not just those we are the same as us or who we are comfortable with.
Do you see how differences are a blessing and not a problem?
As a disciple of Jesus
As a person called to represent God in the world do you see why it is important to be welcoming to all people?
Marcia was a character
She loved her church
She had retired many years ago
She always seemed to be able to find something good to say in what was happening in her church and everyone in her church.