Let's Not Complicate It

Some News You Can Use from Shelby Center

If you could choose the greatest challenge to unity in the church, what would you pick? What stumbling-block or sin separates us the most? Is it an action or an attitude? 1 Corinthians deals with both.

Paul introduced his letter to Corinth with a theological brief concerning their equality in Christ by virtue of the same grace, gift, and calling to salvation, saintly living, and service - no matter their previous lifestyle.

He’ll now introduce their greatest challenge. By the way, what did you pick? (From 1 Cor. 1:10-18):

Paul will pick on many issues that challenge the Corinthians and any church that is on mission and ministering the gospel amid darkness and corruption.

Winning people from our culture gets messy and problems manifest themselves at times within the church. We complicate it with our contentions.

But he starts with arguably our greatest challenge: Self-will. Did you see that in v. 10?

Like it or not everyone one of us brings things to the local church that we prefer. Though saved by the same grace, placed into the body of Christ by the same Spirit, to serve in the same mission we can elevate our desires above the good of others and become factional or divisive.

Paul bookends his letter (ch. 1, 15) with a clarification and call to what makes us the same when we answered the call of Christ: Grace, the gospel!

1. The Invocation (10-11).

· When one shows up at our door with what will they be met - a set of beliefs, a sect of brethren, or a sense of belonging? At Corinth it was sects and beliefs; and it divided the brotherhood (Gen. 13:8).

· We must be established in our belonging, in community around Christ, by the same grace, gospel and mission so that sectarianism and preferred beliefs won’t cause grumblings and grudges (Eph. 4:1-7).

2. The Identification (12-16).

· Seems everyone has a favorite preacher, teacher, or school of thought. So long as there are platforms, personalities, publications, and pages on the web there will be pitting one against another (Apollos – for intellectuals; Cephas – for hyper-conservatives; Paul – for simplicity of the gospel 1 Cor. 2:1-5!).

· With which do you identify? Paul’s question cuts! The same gospel placed you into the same body (life) by the same name – there is no other (Acts 4:12, Gal. 2:20)! Self-will be gone (Lk. 9:23-26)!

3. The Injunction (17-18)

· First things first. Paul keeps Christ crucified central (1 Cor. 1:18, Col. 1:18)! Baptism doesn’t convert or confirm. It publicly confesses one’s allegiance to Christ alone, not sects or sectarians! They forgot.

· Corinth wasn’t the only church hung up on the cult of philosophical and theological personalities, promotions, and preferences. Paul also reoriented those at Colosse & Laodicea: Col. 2:1-15.

Friend, when God called you consented to your death, burial, and resurrection. You made a choice to exchange your sin for Christ’s life. Glory! Now, with the mind of Christ surrender your self-will also.

When we elevate our sects or sets of beliefs we illuminate our differences and diminish the light of the gospel. This is a detriment to creating a place where people enjoy a secure sense of belonging.

Self-will is a challenge to unity. Would you choose to leave yours outside, better yet, crucified?

Grace and the gospel are the great equalizer and unifier - simple! Now let’s not complicate it with our contentions!

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