Monday, March 21, 2011

Unity not uniformity

1 Corinthians 1

We generally think of Las Vegas as “sin city” but Las Vegas could not hold a candle to Corinth. The city was a major intersection and trading hub in the East. Aphrodite was the main deity worshiped in this city, She was the god of all sensuality, over 1000 temple prostitutes performed the “acts of worship” every day in this city. The city was known for its divisive spirit, incest, fornication, high divorce rate, and frequent lawsuits. The early church was surrounded by all this; most had been involved in much of this sin and some even carried it over into the church. It is into this situation that Paul established the church here and now writes a letter to bring guidance and correction.

You can imagine with all of this going on and considered normal in the culture, how difficult it would have been for the early believers to live a life holy unto God. Paul writes this letter to both resolve some doctrinal issues and practical problems facing the church.

Because of all of the “spirituality” in Corinth they easily accepted the spiritual flow of things. Paul recognizes that when he alludes to the gifts of prophecy, words of knowledge, wisdom, and tongues in verse 5 “enriched… all utterance and knowledge” and that they have “come short in no gift” in verse 7.

Even though Paul had founded the church because others had come into Corinth to help strengthen the church the people became divided in their loyalties. It is human nature to pick sides. Look at the way Americans handle football or the rest of the world handles soccer. These men generally have very little in common with the people that are cheering them on, they have no sense of pride for the home town generally because they are from other areas but because this is “our team” we stand by them and they care little or nothing for the city but we have chosen them and will tear down other teams because this is “our” team. So the early church did with Paul, Apollos, and Peter when we are all to be of Christ.

We may have different styles of worship and preaching. We may have different views of the nonessentials; I believe because of these things we have different churches and denominations, which for the most part are not bad. People are different and like different things and are at different levels of maturity but we must be in unity on the essentials of Christ and Him crucified.

We need to be that way inside the church as well. Not everyone is going to act the same as you. We have quiet people and demonstrative people. We have serious people and jokesters. We people who like line upon lie preaching and those who like a more expository approach. We have those who like lively upbeat music and those who like slow meditative songs. All of these are good and different from each other and should be honored in the church but should not be doctrine they are merely style differences. We can have unity without uniformity are focus should be on Christ in all that we do not our preferences. Our preferences are matters of taste not doctrine.

People are going to be different from you. Try to appreciate the differences and allow them to be different. I believe God loves variety.

No comments: