Summary: Christ and the cross unify the church when they are kept the priority of the church.
Title: The Hub
Text: I Corinthians 1:10-17
Truth: Christ and the cross unify the church when they are kept the priority of the church.
Aim: To move members to yield more fully to Lordship.
Life ?: How does a church keep Christ and the cross the unifying priority?
Mercifully, for many Americans the presidential campaigning will soon come to an end. The Democratic Convention just concluded and the Republican Convention is soon to begin. The day the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, announced his selection for Vice President, Joe Biden, the Republicans unleashed what’s called an attack ad. Senator Biden, who was running for the presidency at the time, points out Barack Obama’s poor foreign policy judgment and argued that Americans are quickly realizing that Senator Obama is not ready to be president (Fox news).
Senator Biden dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination after a poor finish in the Iowa caucus, but not before he talked dismissively of joining someone else’s ticket. He said, “I am not running for vice president. I would not accept it if anyone offered it to me. The fact of the matter is I’d rather stay as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee than be vice president.”
Of course, there are the Clintons. The hard feelings between them and Senator Obama have been widely talked about on the news talk shows. But what was portrayed in their speeches was unreserved support for their competitor for the Democratic nomination. Senator Clinton appealed for unity in the party when she asked her supporters if they were in the campaign just for her or were they in it for the people of this country?
Do you think the church could learn something from the Democrats? I’m not naïve about the struggles over leadership in the party, but I get the sense from the committed Democrat’s that their greatest concern is not who is the nominee but winning the presidency. Whatever criticism the competitors had for one another, they are portraying it should be put aside for a wholehearted effort to make the next president a Democrat.
Churches, like political parties, are made of people with different opinions. What is the central issue that is so important that it draws us together and compels us when necessary to set aside our desires? It’s Christ. We find unity when we give up anything that hinders magnifying Jesus Christ. Christ and the cross unify the church when they are kept the priority of the church.
In chapter 1:1-9 Paul tells them the way God sees them. After that he begins to deal with the problems he has heard they are having in the church. He tells them the source of his information—Chloe’s people (v. 11). None of this cowardly, “Several people are upset” routine. That usually means two or three people at the very most. He is specific. He actually quotes what is being said, “I follow Paul,” “I follow Apollos,” “I follow Peter,” or “I follow Christ” (v. 12). All the way through chapter six Paul deals with the problems that Chloe’s people report to him. In the meantime, he receives a letter from the Corinthians detailing other problems and questions, which he answers in chapter seven through sixteen.
The overriding admonition to this troubled, divisive church is verse ten. Look at the many words of unity in this verse. The word “appeal” literally means called alongside. Paul’s asks them to join him in the effort to reestablish unity in the church.
They are “brothers.” The other day my grandsons were showing me a basketball game they have in their playroom. Six-year old Bradley was shooting basketballs into the hoop and explaining the game to me. His four-year old brother, Carter, edged his way beside him. This resulted in Bradley shoving Carter. Quicker than a flash, Carter bared his nails and mauled Bradley like a cougar. I stopped Bradley from whacking his brother. Off he goes crying to his mother. He tells his mother that Carter had scratched him. All the time Carter is calmly shooting basketballs. His mother calls up the stairs, “Carter, did you scratch your brother?” Carter, without missing a beat, said, “Nope.”
Generally, brothers have a commitment to one another that exceeds other relationships. We love, forgive, tolerate, and sacrifice for our family to a degree we will not for others. Paul is calling them to love one another like family. That will go a long way toward dealing with their conflict. In fact, Paul sets the example. He could have pulled rank on them as an apostle, instead he appeals to them as a brother.
The basis of this appeal to unity is the person of Jesus Christ. They claim to be Christians. Are they living like Christ with their fellow church member? Just whose authority have they submitted—their personal preferences or Christ?