Summary: Serving the Lord as individuals and as a collective church has its challenges, stresses, and frustrations, but God calls us to march on.
• All religious groups have conflicts; when people have to work closely together, personality and experiences lead us in different direcions. Modnern Jews have them, too. They often rely on tradition to settle matters. This joke makes the point:
During a service at an old synagogue in Eastern Europe, when the
Shema prayer was said, half the congregants stood up and half remained
sitting. The half that was seated started yelling at those standing to
sit down, and the ones standing yelled at the ones sitting to stand up.
The rabbi, learned as he was in the Law and commentaries, didn't know
what to do. His congregation suggested that he consult a housebound
ninety-eight- year-old man, who was one of the original founders of
their synagogue. The rabbi hoped the elderly man would be able to tell him
what the actual synagogue tradition was. So the rabbi went to the
nursing home with a representative of each faction of the congregation.
The one whose followers stood during the Shema said to the old man, "Is
the tradition to stand during this prayer?" The old man answered "No,
that is not the tradition." The one whose followers sat said, "Then the
tradition is to sit during the Shema!" The old man answered "No, that
is not the tradition." Then the rabbi said to the old man "But the
congregants fight all the time, yelling at each other about whether they
should sit or stand."
The old man interrupted, exclaiming "THAT'S the tradition!"
Main Idea: Serving the Lord as individuals and as a collective church has its challenges, stresses, and frustrations, but God calls us to march on.
I. Conflict Interferes with OUTREACH, But We Still Address It (12-13)
Some people think it odd that churches have conflicts.
• Ballroom Dance Club wanted to organize the music Marylu and I smiled.
• Conflict gridlocks a church & neutralizes its ministry: it makes us loop
A. Paul was having a SUCCESSFUL ministry at Troas (12)
• The problems in the Corinthian church were absurd, but still very much problems
• man committing incest? Nerve to take on Paul the Apostle?
• Paul should not have to expend energy to deal with these. But he did.
B. His WORRY about the Corinthians preoccupied him (13a)
• Holy worry is a function of love and responsibility; “no rest”
C. He could not take the SUSPENSE of not knowing (13b)
• So he went to Macedonia to find Titus and hear a report about Corinth
D. What should occupy most of our attention: conflict or EVANGELISM?
• Last week we saw that Paul set criteria before he would make a return visit
• united churches are important infrastructure in the Kingdom of God
• Illustration: America’s economic health is partly dependent upon infrastructure: speedy roads, bridges, trains, electrical capacity, usable water, high speed internet, trained or skilled workers, etc.
• Healthy churches are foundational to getting God’s work done: they support the missionaries, they impact their communities, they connect to others…