Summary: There’s an awful lot in the Bible about the church being united, but there are so many differences between people that affect the church. Why is that?
Series: Questions About the Church
Part 2 of 5: Why Do Some People in the Church Think Differently from Me?
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:7, 11-12, 26; 3:1-2,4
Last week I started a series of messages dealing with questions people may have about the church, and I talked about “What the church is?”. This week I want to deal with the question: Why Do Some People in the Church Think Differently from Me? There’s an awful lot in the Bible about the church being united (and we’re going to talk about that next week), but there are so many differences between people that affect the church. Why is that? That’s what I hope to answer a little bit today.
1. Church People Are Different Because of the Gifts God Has Given, (1 Cor 1:7)
Verse 7, Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. (NIV)
There are two key words I want to focus on in this verse. The first is, ‘spiritual gift.’ In the Greek language of the New Testament that’s one word, and it’s the same word from which we get our word, ‘charismatic.’ Now, we use that word to describe some denominations that we believe have misunderstood some of the teachings about spiritual gifts. But the word itself, simply refers to what we call spiritual gifts.
What is a spiritual gift? Using that same word, ‘charismatic,’ do you know how we say someone has a charismatic personality? These are people who seem to have a wonderful mixture of confidence, kindness, sincerity, integrity, knowledge about a particular area, leadership style, and being able to relate to people. And after spending some time with them, you want to be around them. And it’s almost unexplainable; “I don’t know why, but I like being around this person.”
Spiritual gifts are similar to this. These are abilities in various areas of ministry. Many of these are listed in 1 Cor. 12 and in some of Paul’s other writings, and include things like: preaching, teaching, witnessing, wisdom, discernment, administration, giving, languages, healing, and helping with menial kinds of tasks.
They are abilities that we may have, but it’s like God blesses them in our lives, so that they are stronger than if we just learned some of this on our own. I mean, you can learn how to preach, teach, witness, and administrate, and so on, but it’s sort of like God gives you a special knack for something.
As most of you probably know, I like computers. When we were in South Dakota, our Director of Missions was always calling me for help with computer things. He would sometimes get a new program and install it on the office computer, and then, he couldn’t figure out how to use it. So, he’d call me for help. I’d go to the office, sit down at the computer, and run the program. It would be a program that I’d never seen before. I’d ask him, “What do you want to do first?” He’d tell me, and I’d start clicking certain places and find what it was he wanted to do, and figure out the steps he had to take to get done what he wanted to do. It’s like I’ve got a knack for some of that. I’m not ready to call that a spiritual gift, but God has given that ability to me, and I can help when people have some computer questions.
So, an easy way to explain spiritual gifts is that they’re kind of like us having a knack for doing something, but it’s a God-given and Spirit-empowered ability that God wants us to use to minister to others in the church, and to advance His kingdom. God gives every believer one or more spiritual gifts to do His work.
With that being said, part of the reason that church people think differently from one another is because of how we’re gifted. If my spiritual gift is evangelism, then, in church planning and budgeting, I will want us to emphasize that and plan events to carry that out. If my spiritual gift is teaching, then, I will want to see us follow a planned learning approach to Scripture and Doctrine, and let that be our main focus. If my spiritual gift is administration, then, I will want us to set up leadership training in all areas of church work, and I will everybody going to this training.
So, even our spiritual-giftedness can lead us to think differently in the church. And there’s nothing wrong with that as long as we do what we’re going to talk about next week.
2. Church People Are Different Because of the Influence of Different Spiritual Leaders, (1 Cor 1:11-12)
Verse 11-12, My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 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." (NIV)