I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way – with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge – God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:4-8 (NIV)
Read: 1 Corinthians 1:1-17
Consider: In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul speaks candidly to the believers in Corinth. After introducing himself and his fellow worker, Sosthenes, he gives thanks for their spirituality and compliments them on their speech and knowledge. If Paul had finished his letter at verse 9 we would have thought that this was a model church. However, the further we get into this letter the more we realise that this church, like all others, is affected by human frailty.
From verse 10 onwards Paul confronts the believers about the divisions in the church. It would appear that there were factions that took pride in calling themselves followers of Paul, Apollos, Cephas or Christ. This led the church to being divided and, worse still, these divisions had intensified so much that knowledge of them had got back to Paul.
This made me think of the modern day church and whether or not we are guilty of the same kind of favouritism. Unfortunately I think we are. If we are honest we have our best-loved preachers and speakers, our preferred worship leaders, etc. While we don’t necessarily take pride in these divisions, they can lead us away from fellowship with each other by concentrating on what divides us, rather than on what unites us. Preferences of this sort can ultimately take us away from Christ. What do I mean? Have you ever been guilty of thinking of not attending church because a particular person is preaching? Or have you allowed your heart to sink when you realise a particular worship team is leading the music? If we are honest we will admit that we have thoughts like this too often. Look at what Paul says: I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought (1 Corinthians 1:10).
We should all be concerned to maintain the unity of the church and should be supportive of all those called to share God’s Word with us, or to lead worship, even when we might prefer things to be done differently.
Pray: Father, forgive us when we allow our personal preferences to affect how we support our church leaders. Give us a spirit that seeks to encourage and not be critical of others. Amen