Summary: When listening to someone speak God’s Word, what are you listening for?
1 Corinthians 1:10-17 LOOKING FOR STYLE, OR LOOKING FOR SUBSTANCE?
A woman driving through Oregon over the Cascade Range ran into a snowstorm and became very frightened. Then she peered ahead and saw a snowplow. What luck! She kept as close to the snowplow as she could 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 their following me! I’m plowing this parking lot!”
Do you ever feel like you’re moving in circles? Running around aimlessly? Who are you following in your life? Sometimes we have an idea, a plan, a philosophy in life, and we follow it with all we got – only to find out that we’re going nowhere.
Churches can do this too, can’t they. A church can follow an idea, a plan, a philosophy, but really, it leads nowhere. Are you perfect? Are the members of Beautiful Savior perfect? Or, is it possible that as individuals, and as members of a church, we are sometimes following the wrong plan, the wrong philosophy?
The members of the church in Corinth were not perfect. As it turns out, they were like that woman following that snowplow – the people in Corinth were following a plan that was leading them nowhere. And it all came down to one thing – they were more concerned about style, than they were about substance. And that plan, that philosophy, was leading them nowhere. This morning, as we focus on this portion of God’s Word, there are many lessons for us to learn. In our personal lives, and in our lives as members of Beautiful Savior, what is a good focus, a good philosophy, for us to follow? We don’t want to be going nowhere. It all comes down to choosing substance over style, as we shall see for today.
Paul writes to the church in Corinth and says to them, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another, so that there may be no divisions among you, and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” Something was wrong at the church in Corinth. Paul wanted all of them to agree with each other. But they weren’t. No divisions! Paul said. But there were. “I want you to be perfectly united in mind and thought.” But they weren’t. Something was wrong. The church in Corinth was split up into different cliques, different groups of people, and they were quarreling with each other. Paul describes what kind of quarreling was going on: “One of you says, ‘I follow Paul;’ another, ‘I follow Apollos;’ another, ‘I follow Cephas;’ still another, ‘I follow Christ.”
Each clique had their favorite pastor. One clique liked Paul, but didn’t like the others. One clique liked a man named Apollos, but not the others. Another liked the Apostle Peter, also known as Cephas. And then you had the independents - we follow Christ. What does that sound like? Doesn’t it almost sound like election time, with people supporting their favorite candidates? Little political parties going on, inside the church.
In the next verses, Paul asks them, whose name were you baptized into? Who was crucified for you? Was it Paul? Maybe they even fought over who would baptize their children: “I don’t want Apollos baptizing my child. I want Peter!”
Why was this problem taking place in the church? Why were these different cliques developing? Because the people were focused more on style, than on substance. Each pastor at that church had his own personality, his own style. Whoever you liked, whoever you clicked with, that’s who you would listen to. And those other pastors –well, they had the same message, but you didn’t like their style, so get them out of here. I don’t want to listen to them. The result? The church in Corinth was in trouble – they were divided – they couldn’t grow. They were heading nowhere, just like that woman following the snowplow.
To be more concerned with style that with substance – isn’t that something that we sometimes do too? That’s our natural tendency, isn’t it? On TV lately, you see a lot of commercials now for the race for Illinois governor. When people vote, how many actually sit down and really compare what the candidates believe and stand for? I wonder if a lot of people just say to themselves, “I’m going to vote for so-and-so. I’m not exactly sure why. I just like him.” Style over substance.