Division in the (Early) Church

I began this post at the end of my second pregnancy, and I’ve been pretty distracted since then; about a month ago I gave birth to another little girl, my little “Bug.” She was overdue by 6 days and I was an emotional wreck, as I waited for her arrival, lol.

Before then, however, I did a study on the book of John, and have since then moved on to the epistles–Paul’s letters to the early churches. The epistles are so interesting, and although, I’ve been running on very little sleep, and struggle to remain focused I figured writing would help me organize my scattered thoughts. One of the things I always enjoy about the epistles, is how Paul addressed the early Church as they struggled with many of the same things we struggle with today.

For instance, the epistles cover division (and unity), immortality, and idolatry within the Church; forgiving those who don’t deserve it, reconciliation, and generosity; salvation through grace; faith as evidenced through works; gifts of the Spirit; and so much more. They really are powerful, Spirit-filled little books of the Bible, that shouldn’t be ignored.

Today, we’ll take a quick look at 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, in which, Paul wrote to the church at Corinth about division in the church. Apparently, people were divided over teachers of the gospel. Think of it this way, they favored some teachers over others, and argued over who was the better teacher. Does this sound familiar?

Paul had to remind them that they weren’t following him, but Christ! He basically says, “Y’all weren’t baptized in my name! And you certainly aren’t saved by my words; for it’s the power of the cross that saves!”

Today’s believers often fall into this same trap. We may follow a preacher or teacher (or even, church denomination) at the expense of unity. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be discerning when it comes to teachers and preachers of the Word; because, obviously, if a teaching is unbiblical we shouldn’t be accepting of it. However, more often than not, the differences between pastors/teachers we follow are more about preferences, like teaching styles and traditions, than biblical foundations. (I actually shared a post on this way back in 2012, which you can find here.)

Do you know, there are some who are willing to cross denomination lines and attend churches that they didn’t grow up in, or consider themselves to be members of? For some of you, that may be sacrilegious! But if we are all Spirit-filled believers and followers of the Word, this should be the norm. After all, we’re all One body, whose head is Christ; and only once we understand this and move together in the spirit of unity, will we make a real difference in our communities.

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Correction

Wow! It’s been a while since I wrote anything on here. I’ve been really busy working on my Masters, but now I’m on summer break until August 19. 😀

First off, I’d like to mention how interesting it is that my last post was about being unequally yoked, and my last journal entry–which I was reviewing earlier today–was about the same topic. In 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 Paul told the Corinthians not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. My study Bible says that Paul was most likely referring to the false teachers that were trying to lead the Church members astray; however, I believe Paul was referring to much more than that. Really this can be applied to all our relationships. Unbelieving friends, co-workers, or teachers can encourage us to act/live against what God’s Word asks/expects of us.  Now, it’s not that we aren’t supposed to have unbelievers as friends, but they shouldn’t make up our core group of friends or be those we seek for sound godly advice. Paul reminds us that we’re intended to be separate and holy, “perfecting holiness out of reverence for God;” in other words, we honor God by separating ourselves for His purpose and living according to His commands.

Paul then goes on to ask the question “And what agreement does God’s sanctuary have with idols?” You may be confused by this question, but remember, we previously discussed that WE are God’s sanctuary. His Holy Spirit takes residence within us when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. Therefore, God ought to be our focus; our life’s purpose should be to glorify God in all that we do. Unbelievers, however, put themselves at the center of their universe–making themselves an idol–and putting themselves before God. Today one of my Facebook friends 😉 posted a quote by rapper Shai Linne, it stated “It’s called selfism, the fastest growing religion.” I thought this quote pretty much summed up this topic.

Now, for what I really wanted to discuss!! 😀 TODAY, I was reading 2 Corinthians 7:2-16 and I was reminded that man has remained the same since the beginning. Paul was, again, speaking to the church at Corinth. He always had to correct and rebuke the members of the church, which amuses me, because I realize the early Church had just as many problems as today–even some of the same problems! But one of the many reasons I love Paul is that because he loved the Church so much, he was honest and spoke the Truth to them, even when he knew it would hurt their feelings or cause them to be angry with him. He would rather have people be upset for a short while on Earth, rather than spend an eternity in hell, because he’d withheld the truth from them. Paul wanted them to repent and have a heart (and lifestyle) change; his intent was not to hurt them, but to help them.

How often we get angry with those who correct us! Man is still the same today. We hate being corrected. However, usually, those who are correcting us, do so out of love for us. Paul constantly reminded the Corinthians that he loved them and was proud of them. He was so proud of them that he was bragging about them to Titus (2 Corinthians 7:14)! Remember God’s Word says He disciplines/corrects those He loves (Revelations 3:19). However, we often confuse correction for criticism, but there’s a difference between the two. When you hear correction, think “improvement” because correction ought to build you up and make you a better individual, or in this case, a better Christian; but when you hear criticism, think “fault-finding” because this individual is simply trying to tear you down. Therefore, the next time someone corrects us we ought to be “quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19) and remember…”Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise” (Proverbs 19:20).

Judgment

I came across this short statement a while ago, and it was recently brought to mind, so I thought I’d share it with you…

In our politically correct age, we are told that it’s not our right to point fingers and pass judgment on others. However, this is actually a judgment in and of itself, and thus it contradicts the principle that we should not judge others. So when someone tells you that it’s wrong for you to judge, ask, “So then why are you judging me?” Anyone who says Jesus prohibits all judgment in Matthew 7:1 has taken His words out of context. It is a self-righteous, hypocritical judgment that Jesus condemns (Romans 2:1-3). Elsewhere He actually commands His followers to “judge according to righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Paul said Christians are responsible to discern the actions of other Christians (1 Corinthians 5:9-13, 6:2-5). Of course our goal must be correction rather than scorn when we make righteous judgments. We must keep a humble, non-hypocritical spirit when we judge others, but we should never buy into the idea that it is wrong to practice and communicate discernment. (Apologetics Study Bible for Students. (2009). P 1010. Holman Bible Publishers: Nashville, TN.)