In this 40 Days of Community we’re doing as a church we’re remembering that churches are made up of imperfect people. The apostle Paul would have agreed! Because he had to address a lot of problems when he wrote to a very gifted, but very immature and divided church in the city of Corinth. Paul heard from Apollos that there were problems there, then he got a letter from the church itself, and finally while he was living in Ephesus, some friends visited and told him some really disturbing report about the church.
Yes they were gifted, Paul said, in fact they did not lack ANY spiritual gift… BUT there was little evidence of the fruit of the Spirit there! You know you can have gifts – without love? Paul heard about moral failures, sexually immorality, abuse of the Lord’s supper, false teaching and failure to follow through on promises to be generous with their money.
This church had divisions, nastiness, gossip, lawsuits, jealousy and envy. They were about as mixed up as any church ever got! You know why he wrote that really famous chapter 13 all about love? Because they didn’t have a clue!
So Paul wrote to them and said there were really three things that these people in the church needed to do, to get their focus right. I’m going to detail those things in my next three blogs – based on the talk I gave last Sunday, which I hope will soon be available on the www.l1fe.org website. It’s all about focus…
1. Focus on Jesus – HE is the reason we’re here. Paul knew they were fighting and quarrelling. So he says to them in verse 10, “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another (some translations put that – ‘say the same thing’) so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
In that one sentence, he reminds them that people in the church share a special relationship with one another. We’re related to each other because we all call Jesus our Lord. And for that reason, we ought not to fight.
When my brother and I were young, we fought like cats and dogs. (I once punched him right over the settee!). Sometimes it was his fault, rarely was it mine…. but we were both guilty at times. What was totally consistent is that my mum and dad hated it when we fought. Why? Because it’s just not right!
I’m glad to say it hardly happens, but it hurts me if my kids fall out, and it hurt my parents when I fought my brother or sister. It’s not right for people who are part of the same family to be fighting and arguing and hitting each other – it just wasn’t right. I’m really glad we grew up and grew out of it. Because, when times get tough, like when my Dad died, being family makes a big difference.
Paul said, put your focus on Jesus. “For Jesus’ sake, because of his name – you’re united in him, you ought not to be fighting among yourselves. You ought to help each other, to hang together and strengthen each other, not tear each other down.”
We’re imperfect people aren’t we? No one in their right mind argues with that, but we need to remember that the reason we’re here is because we love Jesus. He’s the one who’s brought us into the family of God. He’s the reason we’re here. We want to follow Jesus. He’s what it’s all about.
Read again verse 10: I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (that’s the ONLY name that matters), that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions (the word there is what we get schism from) among you – and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. So the Bible says let’s focus on Jesus; because after all, he’s the real reason we’re here.