Only One risen Saviuor

Only One risen Saviuor
There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved - Jesus

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

1 Corinthians Day 5 - Tension in the Church?

1:10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Peter,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Differences of opinion? Imagine that... 

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Picture a circle. Standing in the circle is Jesus. Every person in the church in Corinth is heading toward Him. Each step forward helps them see Him more clearly. At least the side of Him they are facing as they approach Him. There are several issues. The first and most obvious is that they are all coming toward Him from a different direction. Those coming from the south side of the circle are seeing Jesus from a completely opposite perspective than those coming from the north. In addition each person has or had a human guide that got them started on their journey toward Jesus. Each of those guides had an imperfect perspective and tainted every individual they taught. Perhaps Peter overemphasized forgiveness. Apollos overemphasized doctrine maybe. Paul focused more on the issues dividing Jews and Gentiles and in all that a different Jesus was painted. Now we have a church with members coming from their own unique backgrounds toward a Jesus that has been described to them in various ways. For example Paul writes (quoting the Old Testament btw) that the just will live by faith. Do you know that in the 5 books and letters John wrote he barely uses the word faith at all? It does not appear in the gospel of John even once! Does that mean John didn't believe the just will live by faith? No way! What it does mean is that he expressed that truth in different terms. 

We are all different. Some of us vastly different. Some of us so close to being the same that the differences seem magnified. Some come to Jesus from a background choked with arbitrary, punitive, even abusive rules. We bristle at the mere mention of rules, overemphasize freedom in Christ, and devalue or misunderstand the beautiful truth that our God is a God of order. Others of us come from a background of chaos completely lacking in any kind of structure. We love the side of Jesus that is orderly; the Jesus who had the disciples organize the crowd into groups and sat them neatly on the grassy hillside to feed them. 

Now put those two very different mindsets together in a church and ask them to plan something together and see what happens...

Paul is pleading with the church to be of one mind. To come together in unity. To have the perfectly balanced, flexible yet structured mind of Jesus. How could that ever happen? Does he even realize what he is asking? Paul is a unique character himself. You may or may not remember that he got into a disagreement so deeply with Barnabas over John Mark that they split up and were no longer in ministry together. Paul is described as a foundation builder. He got churches started but was rarely around for the "family adjustment" period that always follows the more honeymoon like beginnings.

Don't get me wrong. I am not bashing Paul. I'm just underlining that he like us was on a journey toward Jesus. The One mind ideal he dreamed of for Corinth was still an elusive ideal for him. It can only and will only occur fully when we get Home. Remember that the leaves on the tree of life are for the healing of the nations. 

Does that mean we throw up our hands and give up? Not at all. We never arrive at the ideal but we can certainly make progress. Our sinful selves want to avoid this progression. We want Jesus to come to us. 

We'll talk about what that looks like tomorrow. Meanwhile in the midst of all this tension we are His children in whom He is well pleased, perfect in Christ. :)

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