• Matt Beaney

#437 (14/9/21) - DIVIDED OVER DIFFERENCES (1 COR. 1:11-12)



This week our devotions are based on 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.

'My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.' (1 Corinthians 1:11-12)

The Corinthians were allowing Corinthian culture to infect their relationship with leaders. Greek culture loved beautiful rhetoric and wisdom - philosophical debates and presentations. They, no doubt, preferred leaders who spoke beautifully. This is why Paul will urge them not to be infected by worldly wisdom. How are you allowing worldly wisdom and values to influence how you value leaders?


This letter is dealing with the particular causes of division in the Corinthian church at that time. God, in His wisdom chose to use these circumstances to warn us, in the twenty-first century, of a timeless trap that we can all fall into if we are not very careful - the trap is idolising people and leaders over Jesus. God has chosen to leave the details obscure but we can comment on some things:


i) THEY ARE GOOD LEADERS

Firstly, they are all good, Christian leaders and not false or unqualified leaders. We are certainly not to follow those who teach error. We follow those who follow Christ faithfully.

Do you value character and doctrine over everything else in a leader?


ii) THIS CHURCH IS UNITING AND DIVIDING ON PREFERENCES

Secondly, this church was honouring and dishonouring different leaders because of personality and emphasis. Different leaders, because of the gifts that God has given to them, will emphasise different aspects of the Christian life. We all love leaders who teach and lead us into activities that we feel are most important. However, that which ‘floats our boat’ and stirs our passions is often because God has similarly gifted us! The evangelist, for example, loves the leader who is also an evangelist. The pastoral person loves the leader who is also pastoral etc. However, these differences among leaders are not to divide. Rather, they are to make us a mature body!

Do you and I respect diversity as God’s gift to build the church?


iii) WHAT UNITES SHOWS WHAT WE VALUE

What unites us shows what we value. If we will only love and be devoted to a church community that serves our preferences, these things have become idols and we are not valuing Jesus as we should.

Is Jesus - the gospel and His work for us - the ‘sun’ around which we unify?


iv) SEE THE LEADER BEHIND THE LEADER

If we are going to have a healthy relationship with our leaders, we must see the leader behind the leader - Jesus. Jesus is our ultimate pastor and church leader. We follow and respect all who follow Him. We must not divide over differences. We must learn to respect and gain from the variety of leaders that He has put into our lives.


A really helpful application is to pray for your leaders. Thank God for them. Pray for their development.


COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY

1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

2. Icebreaker

How has God spoken to you from the Bible this week?

3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group

On Sunday we continued in our series in 1 Corinthians. The title of the message was, 'OUR UNITY REFLECTS JEUS'. Overcoming worldly disunity by an application of the gospel is a big theme in this letter.


Please read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.


1. AN APPEAL OVER A COMMON PROBLEM.

Broken relationships were common in Corinthian culture. Christians are called to reflect the character of Jesus and His Kingdom rather than their broken culture. Therefore, unity must be eagerly pursued, and the skill of overcoming relational landmines must be learnt.


2. AN APPEAL TO FAMILY

Paul addresses the church his family. He appeals to them as ‘brothers and sisters’. Family is something that we stick with. We don’t treat church membership and unity lightly.


3. AN APPEAL IN JESUS' NAME

Paul appeals for unity ‘in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’. Paul is speaking on behalf of Jesus and he knows that it’s Jesus’ will that they pursue loving unity.

Let’s also remember that the church represents ‘the name of Jesus’ and so our relationships in the church reflect on His character for good or bad!


4. UNITED THROUGH HEALTHY THINKING

Harmony is maintained through healthy thinking. We are urged to ‘agree with one another in what you say’. This unifying speech flows out of being ‘perfectly united in mind and thought’. Bad - culture-inspired - thinking leads to poor speech and disunity. Good - Jesus-centred - thinking leads to healthy speech and harmony.


5. HARMONY THROUGH HEALTHY DIVERSITY

Paul speaks of their dividing and quarrelling about leaders. Each leader has a different background, different gifts and a different history with the church that was creating an unhealthy celebrity culture.

However, we are to understand that harmony and strength are created by the variety of gifts in the body of Christ and her leaders.


6. OUR UNITY REFLECTS JEUS

The church is to be like an orchestra. The beauty of the music is in the variety of instruments. Jesus in our conductor. He's the composer. May our music reflect Him to this world that needs Him.


Discussion questions

1. Did God speak to you, or what do you plan to do in response to Sunday's message?

2. Do you have any questions about this text?

3. v.10 - How does unity in mind and thought help to maintain unity?

3. v.11 - Have you ever experienced division over leaders in a local church? (Please be careful not to spread gossip with this question).

4. v.13- Why does division in the church cause Paul to ask 'Is Christ divided?'

5. v.14 - The title of Sunday's message was 'Our Unity Reflects Jesus'. What do disunity and unity reflect about Jesus?

5. SIV

Finally, it would be helpful to talk and pray about how we are doing in regard to Serve, Invest and Invite. Do you have any encouraging stories or any plans in this regard? How do you want to pray in regard to our mission?


Let's be praying and actively preparing to invite friends to our carol service on 5th December. Please make sure this is in you diary.







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