Summary: Paul, Pt. 5

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An African proverb says, “When elephants fight, grass gets trampled.” When elephants rumble, not only grass suffers the damage, animals run for cover, too. Elephants do not throw their weight around for nothing. According to Wikipedia, the grizzly bear weighs 1,720 lbs., the white rhinoceros 7,937 lbs., the hippopotamus 9,920 lbs., but the African elephant weighs 16,534 lbs.

The largest elephant on record weighed about 24,000 pounds (10,886 kilograms) and was 13 feet (3.96 meters) tall! Wild elephants eat all types of vegetation, from grass and fruit to leaves and bark— about 220 to 440 pounds (100 to 200 kilograms) each day. They also drink about 30 gallons (113.5 liters) of water each day.

Building a church is hard enough without bigger than life characters causing a stampede in church. Often, there are conflicts, disagreements and misunderstandings. In the church at Corinth there were two 600-pound gorillas and 2,000-pound elephants by the name of Paul and Apollos. Their followers were displeased with each other, disrespectful to each other and distant from each other, adding to the two men’s stress, straining the fellowship in the church, neglecting the work of the gospel, hurting the name of the church and rejecting the suggestion of possible reconciliation.

How should leaders, coworkers and groups within the church work together? What causes divisions and factions? What can we do to build up and not tear down one another?

Prize Good Motivation

3:1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men? (1 Cor 3:1-4)

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 98-year-old man, who was one of the original founders of their temple.

The rabbi hoped the elderly man would be able to tell him what the actual temple tradition was, so he went to the nursing home with a representative of each faction of the congregation. The one whose followers stood during Shema said to the old man, “Is the tradition to stand during this prayer?” The old man answered, “No, that is not our tradition.”

The one whose followers sat asked, “Is the tradition to sit during Shema?” The old man answered, “No, that is not our tradition.”

Then the rabbi said to the old man, “Please help us! The congregants fight all the time, yelling at each other about whether they should sit or stand.” The old man interrupted, exclaiming, “THAT is our tradition!”

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