Jump Start # 2341
1 Corinthians 1:11 “For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you.”
The congregation at Corinth gets a lot of bad press. We tend only to focus upon the problems, and they had a bunch. Nearly every chapter identifies something wrong. They are the textbook example of what not to do. If Corinth was a congregation near us, most of us would run screaming from that place. What a mess. It’s an elders nightmare. Most preachers would move away from such a dysfunctional group. Some would think of just closing the doors and starting over. Many would seriously consider starting another congregation on the other side of Corinth just to get away from some of these problems.
In all of this we must remind ourselves that all churches have problems. They have problems because churches are not buildings but people. And, we the people have problems. We come with a past. We carry baggage with us. We all have opinions. We have attitudes. And, we have differing levels of faith, commitment and Biblical knowledge. The best congregations among us have problems. The worst congregations among us have problems, maybe more problems than others. And, it is easy to only see the problems. We can do that with our homes. All we see are the things that need to be done. Friends come over and they admire the place, and we look around and see walls that need fresh paint, carpet that needs to be changed, landscaping that needs tending, and on and on and on.
Focusing on problems is necessary to change and improve things. But we can over do that to the extent that we see nothing but problems. That can discourage us, defeat us and deflate us. We can do that with our homes. We can do that with the church building. We can even do that with our marriages. All we see is what needs to be fixed. And that kind of thinking blinds us to the good things that we ought to be thankful for and be praising. There is that young man who was baptized. There is that new family that has been attending. There is that Bible class that was so well taught and so uplifting. There was that song service that filled our hearts. No, we don’t see those things. We see problems, problems, problems. This thinking can turn the sweetest among us sour. Sour elders. Sour preachers. Sour members.
But here at Corinth, there were some good things going on. Near the top of the list was courageous faith. It takes that kind of faith to serve the Lord. Cowards won’t make it. They’ll look for a safe place to hide. The courageous takes risks. The courageous sticks their necks out on the line.
Here’s what we find:
First, they had brave folks who were not satisfied, nor content with the problems among them. This is where our verse fits. Chloe’s people reached out to Paul. There were quarrels taking place. God’s people shouldn’t act that way. More than that, quarrels do not just go away. They must be solved.
Second, they sought apostolic answers. They didn’t gossip. They didn’t just let things ride. They went to the right source. They were humble enough to ask. They wanted things to get better.
Third, there was required some tough actions to make things better. In 1 Cor 5, concerning the immoral man who was living with his father’s wife, Paul said to “remove him from your midst.” Cut the cord. Withdraw fellowship. Don’t consider him faithful, because he is not. That wasn’t going to be easy, nor would that set well with some folks. Family too often sides with family and not with Christ. The blood of family can be thicker than the blood of Christ. So, in dealing with this immoral man, you now have a dog fight with the rest of his family. Don’t know if that happened in Corinth, but it sure happens in America. Instead of having to withdraw from one, the church ends up withdrawing from several who support the sinful man. Parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, they all come out of the woodwork to defend and support not the Scriptures but their blood kin. It takes courage to do what is right.
Fourth, it takes courage to remain together. The easy thing to do is to separate. It’s easy to find a few others who side with you and start another church. Running from problems and issues is always a lot easier than sticking together and working things out. We do not read of a split in this congregation. We do not find Paul having to write separate letters to separate congregations at Corinth. With all these problems, they seemed to stick together. That is amazing. So many of us could take some lessons here. We’d rather worship with eight people in a small, discouraging, going– nowhere congregation, than to suck up our pride, apologize, forgive and work together with others. For all the problems at Corinth, we do not see them walking away and starting another work.
Finally, we need to remind ourselves that everything we do affects us spiritually. What happens at home. What happens in our marriages. What happens at work. Also, every area of our lives are open to God. There’s not one aspect that is off limits to God. Private stuff. Personal stuff. Thoughts. Attitudes. What we think about others. What we whisper under our breath. Social life. Hobbies. It all belongs to God and is open to God. And, the Scriptures are always right and often I am not. The standard throughout Corinthians is the word of God. It wasn’t what the congregation thought, felt, wanted, or liked. God’s word is always on top. What I think may actually not be right. I assume. I hear things. I pick up things. I read somewhere. And all of that gets blended into my thinking and sprinkle a little pride in there and I am pretty sure that I am right. However, that is often not the case. What I thought was right, may not be. What I heard may not have been accurate. What I read may have been distorted to a certain slant. God’s word shines loudly and clearly through all of this.
Courageous Corinthians. Bold. Taking steps that were not easy. Following the Lord. Problems, yes they were there. But don’t miss the powerful example of courage, faith and trust in the Lord. It’s hard to imagine what we would have done had we been in Corinth. Would we have been with Cloe’s people, seeking Biblical answers to real problems or would we have just sat in silence, complaining to our family, and wishing for someone to do something. Then I must wonder about what I’m doing now. I’m not in Corinth. But, here I am and what am I doing to try to make things right, better and pleasing to the Lord in my part of the kingdom?
Somehow, the view of Corinth takes on a different look when I consider a few of these things.