Summary: Church fights, anger and power-positioning -- the church is so much like the world we hardly have anything to offer as an example of the Christlike life. Here is how to straighten out!
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
sermon ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
A fellowship of faith, family and friendships.
Russell Brownworth, Pastor
There is a chorus I love; it is a prayer to God, "Bind us together, Lord...with cords that cannot be broken...Bind us together with love."
The picture of unity is so warm and inviting. The reality of disunity is cold and chilling to the bone. In disunity there is chaos and wandering. In unity there is direction and strength to spare. A young fellow had an old jalopy. Getting around in a town filled with hills was difficult. In order to get up one of the steepest of these hills, the young man needed a running start. As he approached the bottom of the hill at full speed, trying to get up enough speed to make the nest hill, he saw two cars crossing the street he was on. He calculated that if he slowed down just enough for the first car to pass, he could gun his engine and make it in front of the second car. The only miscalculation was that he failed to notice the first car was towing the second car! He learned the hard way an important theological lesson; it is very difficult to divide things that are bound together.
Whatever was binding the Christians together at Corinth had come unglued. There were four identifiable groups:
The Paul Group
These Gentiles, converted to Christianity turned their liberty in Christ into license to do as they please. They liked Paul’s emphasis on freedom. They disregarded "Be ye holy for I am holy."
The Apollos Group
The Apollos group had a fondness for knowledge. Unfortunately their intellectualism proved to be man’s (carnal) wisdom. They were into all sorts of neat things like numerology. For instance, in Genesis 14 and 18, Abram circumcised 318 members of his household. The Greek number 18 is the same symbol for the first two letters of Jesus’ name. The Greek number 300 is the symbol of a cross. Therefore (to the Apollos followers) Abram’s act symbolized the cross of Christ. Pseudo intellectuals always turn grace into philosophy.
The Cephas Group
The Jewish members of the Corinthian church kept the Law. They saw plenty of good in following Jesus...they just didn’t want to give up any tradition ever invented!
The Christ Group
As always, there is a group that claims exclusive rights to being in the right. The "Christ" group was a small rigid sect, self-proclaimed as the only true Christians. There’s no (textual) proof, however it isn’t hard to imagine that these were the ones who had a pocketful of pride over the gifts of the Spirit.
Four splinter groups, cliques in the church. I call them the "Gentile Loose Livers" -- the "Apollos Big Thinkers" -- the "Jewish Unmovables" -- and the "Christ Theo-ego Club." What did Paul have to say about these fraternities?
Don’t Be Untied
"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."1 Co 1.10 (NIV)
When Paul used the words "divisions" and "united" he was giving a clear picture. Division is the word schism -- a definite break in fellowship. When he says "united" he is using a medical term that describes the mending process of broken bones. When a bone breaks the entire body is put on alert that all available resources are subject to fixing the break. It is like calling out the National Guard in a crisis. Paul said to the church, "Don’t be untied, be knit together; even though you have been broken and have differences, refuse to be divided any longer.
What was untied that needed to be united?
The mind is the seeing/perceiving faculty of the body. We must look closely at what is happening in the body, and perceive it together.
The "thought" according to Paul is that faculty of judging, or reasoning. Once we see clearly, we are to judge, so that the healing, the uniting of the body can take place. A new executive went to his first high-level meeting. At the end of the conference table sat a fellow who, whenever a tough problem came up, would say something like, "Well it never rains but it pours" or "It’s a long road that has no turning" or "If life gives you lemons, then make lemonade." "Exactly what does that guy do?" the new exec asked a colleague after the meeting. "He gives us our spirit of unity," was the reply. "We’d all like to strangle him."
That approach may be well and fine for the world. However, in the body of Christ, personalities are never the issue. We are not to let personal likes and dislikes divide us. It is as if the hand says, "Foot, you’re rather ugly, and can’t grab anything like I can. You aren’t worth much to the body. I, on the other hand, feed the mouth, wash the body, comb the hair, and pick up whatever this body needs. I am needed, you are not! I don’t think I like you!" What will the foot say? "Okay, bud...have it your way. I’ll just sit here. When you need someone to carry you to that food you feed us, or into the shower to wash us, or to the comb, or any where else, us feet will just ’let the fingers do the walking’!" Untied is not good! It is not Godly. Paul also said,