Summary: Church conflict dishonors the Lord and can do great damage to people's souls
RYAN: Oh, don't give me that, Andy! Anyone with half a brain knows that I am right.
ANDY: Are you saying I am stupid? Listen, Ryan, you better take back what you said or I'll throw you halfway across the room!
RYAN: Yeah? You and what army?
ANDY: Don't get me mad, Ryan. These hands are registered as lethal weapons.
PASTOR DAN: Wait a minute. What is going on here? What are you guys arguing about?
CHRIS: These guys are having this ridiculous argument. Ryan claims that Daryl Norenberg is the best Sunday School teacher we have at First Baptist, and Andy claims that John Galliford is the best. I can't believe they would argue over anything so silly! I thought everyone knew I was the best Sunday School teacher in this church.
RYAN: Give me a break, Chris. Daryl has such deep insights into the Bible. You and the other teachers are mental midgets compared to him!
ANDY: Get real, Ryan. John Galliford is a Doctor, like in Ph.D. He is brilliant. His brain is probably bigger than your whole head.
RYAN: (Grabbing Andy by the shoulders.) You are really starting to make me mad, Andy!
PASTOR DAN: (Breaking up Ryan and Andy.) OK, you guys just calm down. John and Daryl are both excellent teachers, and so is Chris. I am just thankful we have such great Sunday School teachers for the adult classes in this church. You guys should be grateful for that too.
RYAN: Well, I am just getting tired of this whole thing. I am going to call Daryl and see if we can start our own church. We will call ourselves the Norenbergites.
ANDY: Well, I am going to go talk to Dr. Galliford. Maybe we will start our own church and be the Gallifordists.
CHRIS: Hey, I might as well start my own church too. I think I will call it the, ah, the ah, Chris-tian church. That's it, Christian church. Pretty original, eh?
PASTOR DAN: Just go sit down, guys. Maybe after the sermon this morning you will realize how arguing about who is the best teacher really does not honor the Lord.
Friends, fortunately for us, that conversation is total fiction. As far as I know, there are no arguments in this church about who is the best Sunday School teacher. However, there have been some bitter conflicts in churches when one group decides to follow one leader, while another group is loyal to someone else. A few years ago a Detroit newspaper reported how police had been called to break up a fight that had broken out in a Baptist church in that city. A conflict existed over which of two individuals was to be the pastor of the congregation. So, that Sunday both men had gone up front and were preaching at the same time, trying to out shout each other. That is when the fist fight broke out between the supporters of each pastor, which did not end until the police arrived.
Today, as we continue our study of the Book of 1 Corinthians, we will find that divisions plagued the 1st Century church as well. Our text is 1 Corinthians 1:10-17. Now, we touched on some issues concerning church unity a few weeks ago in our series on the purpose of this church. But, this is such an important topic. As Jesus said, "A house divided against itself will not stand." And neither will a church. Even if a church division is much less extreme than what happened in Detroit or in our skit, it still dishonors the Lord and can do great damage to people's souls. Let's pause and pray that God would speak to our minds and hearts today and help us avoid these tragic divisions.
Let's take a look at the situation in the Corinthian church. Last week, in the first part of this chapter, we saw that Paul was thankful for how God's grace was making a difference in the lives of the Christians at Corinth. Yet, it is a church full of problems. The first one he addresses, perhaps because he saw it as the most urgent, or maybe because he saw it compounding all their other problems, was the issue of factions or divisions within the church. 1:11 My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. This is the only reference in the New Testament to Chloe. She was a Christian woman who had contact with both Paul and the Corinthians. It has been suggested she was a business woman in Ephesus, with an office in Corinth. Anyway, some of her family members and employees told Paul about the problems in the Corinthian church. Paul continues in 1:12 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." The Christians in Corinth are split into four factions. We cannot be sure what differences in beliefs or practices divided them, but they each identified themselves with a particular individual.