Summary: There are, still today, many congregations that are full of bickering and selfishness. These things tear the church apart and keep them from fulfilling God’s call in their life. Paul addresses this sort of church when he wrote to the church in Corinth. Hi
1st Corinthians 1:1-9
January 20th, 2002
To hurting congregations! What matters most is what God offers first!
Most would say that a recipe for disaster is to take people with different views, ideas, attitudes, backgrounds, and agendas and stick them all in one place. The result would be considered chaotic at best. Case in point the House and the Senate. It is rare when these two groups ever accomplish anything except the ability to disagree. The same promises that were made in the 70’s concerning high taxes are still being made to this day because of all the dissention. Seeing unity among these two groups is almost unheard of, so much so, that in the aftermath of “911”, this nation received a rare moment when members of our government, despite their diversity in politics, gathered together and sang God Bless America. It was a rare moment because unity was displayed where unity is seldom seen.
The Church of Corinth was also made up of a group of people whom also had differing views and religious history. In a community that had prostitution as their religion, had the background for worshipping many false Gods, and had some influence with the Jewish faith as well, they were well on their way to following their own background and tradition rather than the things that Christ wanted them to follow, once they were established as a true Christian Church. And when the world sees this example of the church of Corinth, they say something like, “See, Christ does not change anyone and here is our proof! These new Christians still were selfish, still wanted things their way, still applied their false worship in with Christianity, and followed not Jesus alone but men and religiosity!” And when the world looks at the church of today, they say pretty much the same darn thing! Pastors in Borger say it is like a contagion! One pastor went on a mission trip to Honduras recently and members of his congregation said it was a waist of time. Another pastor told me that many congregations in Borger alone have so, not been willing to be led by Christ’s plan through their ministry, that pastors seldom hang around for very long. And if the Christians see this problem surely the world laughs at it and at Christianity because of it.
Because of this total diversity, the breakdown of living like one Body in Christ, (the Christian Church) has taken a back seat to many other religions that promote good works or some kind of inner light rather than Christ Jesus as the only way, truth and life. This same breakdown was taking place within the new Church of Corinth. They argued incessantly about whom to follow, they wanted to include their religion of prostitution with their newfound faith and they were proud of themselves in the doing of such things.
Paul certainly had reason to write a thesis much less a letter to the Church of Corinth and if he were here today, to write a letter to all the Christian Churches that have yet to find unity among themselves, despite all the many things that today tear Christian Churches apart, Paul would no doubt have given us at least the same opening paragraph as he did for the Corinthians.
In Paul’s letter, he began to address the most important topic of all, and it was not how to mend “this thing or that thing”. Paul did not immediately tell them that they needed to put away such and such; instead, Paul brought them back to the origin of their faith. Paul believed that this origin was of the greatest importance to any Christian. He believed that if the people of God who made up the church received this well, everything else would follow the proper course in time. This message therefore is not only addressed to the church of Corinth, it is also addressed to you and I.
Paul starts off his letter by reminding the Corinthian people, that despite all their diversity and false practices, they were called by God to be His own Holy People. Right off the bat, he reminds us of the two most important aspects of being a Christian. First that we have been called by God, and second that we have been called to be His own (personal) holy people. Paul then begins to elaborate how we became holy. Notice that we are reminded that He made us holy by means of Christ Jesus. Our holiness does not come from ourselves; instead its origin begins with Christ. Then Paul reminds us that he did the same for all Christians everywhere. Whoever calls upon the name of the Jesus Christ, has received this same origin. Paul is showing us where unity begins. This is our focal point! No matter what differences we may have in this place, we all have received the same origin of holiness through Christ. And so we can celebrate and join together simply on this one area of unity, regardless of age differences, history, or personal agenda.