Court clerk Barbara Wilson tells of a story that happened during a
jury-selection process. During jury selection for one trial the judge asked
potential Juror No.1 if there was any reason he could not be a fair and
impartial juror. "There may be," he replied. "Juror No.12 is my ex-wife, and if
we were on the same jury, I guarantee we would not be able to agree on
anything." Both were excused.
Sadly, there are many Christians and many Churches that don't get along. It is
not unusual to hear about trouble down at the Church. Lawyers Lynn R. Buzzard and Laurence Eck, estimate that in one medium size
metropolitan area, 8,000 cases each year involve persons on both sides of legal
disputes who call themselves Christians--with legal fees reaching perhaps $12
A news story from Wales told of a Church looking for a new pastor. It
read: "Yesterday the opposition groups both sent ministers to the pulpit.
Both spoke simultaneously, each trying to shout above the other. Both called for
hymns, and the congregation sang two--each side trying to drown out the other.
Then the groups began shouting at each other. Bibles were raised in anger. The
Sunday morning service turned into bedlam. Through it all, the two preachers
continued trying to out shout each other with their sermons. Eventually a deacon
called a policeman. Two came in shouting for the congregation to be quiet. They
advised the forty persons in the Church to return home. The rivals filed out,
still arguing. Last night one of the group called a 'let's-be-friends' meeting.
It broke up in an argument. The headline of the story read: "Hallelujah!
Two Jacks in One Pulpit."
Someone penned this parody of "Win Them One By One."
You split the one next to you,
And I'll split the one next to me;
In no time at all,
We'll split them all,
So split them, split them, one by one.
The Church at Corinth had it's share of problems. If ever a Church had problems,
it was this one. Through-out the letter Paul deals with these problems. The
first problem that he dealt with was division in the Church. There was trouble
down at the Church. Notice:
1. THE REPORT OF THEIR DIVISION
Word had reached Paul about the problem of division in the Church. We read in
verse 11, "For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which
are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you."
Occasionally pastors receive calls or letters that go:
"Pastor, I think you should know that so and so is doing so and so. Please
don't tell him to told you." Most of the time when people come to me about
someone else, they don't want to tell me who is upset. They say, "So and so is
upset." I have been in this thing long enough to know that I am usually
looking at so and so.
Paul had informants and they didn't hesitate to tell who they were. He spoke of
those "which are of the house of Chloe" (Vs. 11). We don't
have any ideal who Chloe was, but they had sent Paul a report about trouble down at
the Church. The words "hath been declared" means that their report "made evident or
clear." This was not gossip but facts. This was not rumors being spread but
the real facts. This was not some disgruntled Church member but someone with a
love and concern for the Church. Chloe was not trying to start trouble, she was
trying to stop trouble. Paul had his facts straight.
think of a story I once read that reminds me of the importance of getting your
facts straight. There was a rather old fashioned lady who was very delicate and
elegant, especially in her language. She and her husband were planning a
vacation and she wrote a particular campground to get some information. She
wanted to make sure the campground was fully equipped. One thing she wanted to ask about was the toilet facilities, but she did not
know how to ask. She couldn't bring herself to write the word
"toilet." After thinking about she decided on the words "bathroom
commode." But when she wrote that, she still felt uncomfortable with the
wording. So after a while, she settled on the letters "BC," which
stood for "bathroom commode." She wrote: "Does the campground
have it's own BC?"
When the owner of the campground got the letter he couldn't figure out what
she meant by BC. He showed the letter to several people and they all came to the
conclusion that the lady must be taking about a Baptist Church. So he wrote this
I regret very much the delay in answering your letter, but I would like to
inform you that a BC is located 9 miles north of the campground. It is capable
of seating 250 people at one time. I admit it is quite a distance away if you
are in the habit of going regularly. But no doubt you will be pleased to know
that a great number of people take their lunch along and make a day of it. The
last time my wife and I went was 6 years ago and it was so crowded we had to
stand up the whole time we were there. It may interest you to know that there is
a supper planned to raise more money to buy more seats. If you decide to come
down, perhaps I could go with you the first time, sit with you, and introduce
you to all the other folks. Remember, this is a friendly community."
It is important to get our facts straight. Paul's response was to facts, not
A. THREATENING THE STRIFE WAS TO THE CHURCH'S FUTURE
It is from the word "division" in verse 10 that we get our word "schism." It is a word that describes a tear in a garment, yet the garment is
not completely torn apart. The Church at Corinth was
not at the point of a Church split, but the internal strife threatened such. The
schisms and strife within the Church was like a tear in their fellowship, but
Paul knew that if not healed, it could split the congregation.
Internal strife is always a threat to the future of a Church. The truth is, many
Churches that exist are the result of internal strife that ended in a split.
Most Churches have split so much, we now have splinters.
Also, we see how:
B. TROUBLING WAS THE STRIFE TO THE CHURCH'S FELLOWSHIP
The word "contentions" in verse 11 denotes "quarrels,
wrangling." The strife of the Church had developed to a point of shouting,
Two porcupines were huddled together to get warm, but their quills pricked each
other. Before long they were shivering again, so got up close again. Soon they
were pricking each other again. Same story; same ending. They needed each other,
but they kept needling each other.
How sad it is when believers get to the place that instead of shouting over
their blessings, they are shouting at their brothers.
Notice the word "contentions" (Vs.11) again. The word is translated "debate" in
Romans 1:29 where it speaks of lost people. Paul is telling them that they are
acting like unsaved people. They were not acting like saints, they were acting
like sinners. The word is also translated "strife" in
Galatians 5:20, where it talks about the works of the flesh. Paul was telling
them they were letting the flesh control them and not the Spirit. They were not
Spirit controlled, they were self-controlled.
2. THE REASON FOR THEIR DIVISION
Most internal strife in a Church is over minor things and not the major. It is
not over spiritual issues but selfish issues. The Church at Corinth was no
exception. Their problems was not due to principles but personalities. Notice
A. FAVORITISM THAT WAS DISPLAYED
We read in verse 12, "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul;
and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ." There seems to have been
four factions within the Church and
it all centered around who their favorite preacher was.
There was the PAUL crowd. I can imagine this crowd saying, "We like Paul the
best. He really knows the Old Testament, the doctrines of the Bible, and is a
great teacher. He really feeds my soul. He's my kind of preacher." Since he was
the first and founding pastor, they probably put a halo around his head.
There was the APOLLOS crowd. Acts 18:24 tells us that Apollos was an eloquent
man and mighty in the scriptures. I can hear this crowd saying, "You ought to
hear Apollos preach. He sure does know his Bible and his language is ornate.
Words flow from his mouth like dewdrops on rose petals. He is the finest
expository preacher I have ever heard. He's my kind of preacher."
There was the CEPHAS (Peter) crowd. I can imagine this crowd saying,
"I appreciate Paul and Apollos, but Peter is my kind of preacher. Peter is
not a teacher; he is a preacher. He really gets with it when he preaches. He
runs up and down the aisle, and gets in the glory. He skins hide every time he
preaches. Nobody stirs me like Peter."
Then there was the CHRIST crowd. This was the most sanctimonious crowd in
the Church. They looked down their holier than thou nose and squinted their
self-righteous eyes and said, "We don't follow no man. We only follow
Christ. We don't need any man to tell us anything. All we need is Jesus!"
They were the real spiritual ones.
There is also the:
B. FANATICISM THAT HAD DEVELOPED
Each group was not only hanging on the coat-tails of their favorite preacher,
but they had developed the attitude that they were right and everybody else was
wrong. Each group had gone to the extremes of
believing that if you didn't prefer their preacher, then something was wrong.
Each group felt that their likes, tastes, preferences, was the only right way. The result was four factions within the Church with each one
feeling the other was wrong and they were right. Each group had chosen sides.
Now let me say just a word about preaching and preachers. Everybody has someone
and a style they prefer above others. I must be honest and say that there are some preachers that I don't care
to listen to all that much. There are styles I prefer above others. But we make a serious mistake when get locked into this thing
of only listening to one man or a certain style. The style and man needs to be
forgotten. It is the scriptures and message that needs to be heard, regardless
of how it is delivered or packaged.
God has all kinds and all styles. God uses all kinds of people and all styles to
get His Word out to us. When we get to the place where
we all have to sail the same boat and fly the same flag, we are in trouble.
That's why so many can't get along.
3. THE REMEDY FOR THEIR DIVISION
Paul hears about their division, identifies their division, and also gives them
instructions to heal their division. First, he we see:
A. THE CONDITIONS TO BRING THEM TOGETHER
In verse 10 Paul tells them to be "perfectly joined together." The words are a
medical term that refers to the setting of a broken bone.
In Matthew 4:21, the word is used to speak of mending fishing
nets. It is also translated in Galatians 6:1 as "restore."
They were like a broken bones that needed healing. They were
like a torn net that needed mending. They were like a broken fellowship that
Paul tells them to "speak the same thing." He was not saying that they all were
to use the same words, phrases, etc. They were to agree on the basic fundamental
truths of God and let that bring them together. They all had their favorite
preacher, but the bottom line was, each preacher preached the same truths. They
may have preferences, but it was principles that were to unite them.
As believers we are to dwell together in harmony. We are to rally around the
blessed truths of God's Word and lay aside our differences.
Also, we see:
B. THE CHRIST TO BIND THEM TOGETHER
We read in verse 13-16, "Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were
ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but
Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And
I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I
baptized any other." Paul points them to Jesus Christ. He asks, "Is
Christ divided?" The answer is an obvious no. They are one in Him.
Paul asks a series a questions that involved himself. He asks, "Was I crucified
for you? Were you baptized in my name?" He states that he had only baptized a
couple of them. The point that he is making is that the center of harmony is not
a man but the Master. Paul wanted them to get their
eyes off everything and everyone and keep them on Jesus. Paul knew that the
close they got to Jesus, the closer they would get to each other.
You can mark this down: anyone who causes trouble in a Church has got away from
loving Jesus and serving Jesus!
Lastly, we see:
C. THE CAUSE TO BAND THEM TOGETHER
We read in verse 17, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the
gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of
none effect." One of the great fears of Paul was that the cross would be
made of none effect. The words "should be made of none effect" are
actually one word which means "empty." Paul's passion was the preaching of the Cross. He wanted others to be
saved and nothing to happen that would make the message of the Cross and empty
message. Paul was saying to them, "Here is a great
cause for which we should all band together." We should forget our petty
differences and concentrate on getting others saved.
Nothing can hurt the image, testimony, and influence of Church anymore than
trouble. But I have noticed, that those who stir up strife in the Church could
care less what it does to the testimony of the Church or how many people it
could hinder from being saved. All they care about is themselves.
Many years ago a little girl was lost in one of the large wheat fields of
Kansas. Many became involved in the search for her. Their great fear was that
she would not be found before dark and would freeze to death through the night.
As darkness approached, someone suggested that they all join hands and walk
across the field. Shortly thereafter, someone shouted, "Here she is." But it was
too late. As the mother held her little girls lifeless body, she looked up at
the crowd around her, and with tears running down her face said, "Why didn't we
join hands sooner? Oh, why did we not join hands sooner?"
There is more than your opinion and preferences at stake. There will only be
harmony in the Church when we forget ourselves and think of others.