Family Bible Study lesson for May 19: Ministry in Time of Conflict
May 3 2002 by James Baldwin , 1 Corinthians 1:10; 3:3-17

Family Bible Study lesson for May 19: Ministry in Time of Conflict | Friday, May 3, 2002

Friday, May 3, 2002

Family Bible Study lesson for May 19: Ministry in Time of Conflict

By James Baldwin 1 Corinthians 1:10; 3:3-17

A friend tells of a time of transition in his church that created conflict within the body of believers. After several months of hostile business meetings, the pastor called the deacons together to discuss the issues. As the group gathered, the pastor said that he wanted the deacons to spend some time praying for God's will before they began to discuss anything. One deacon sat back in his chair, with his arms folded across his chest, and said, "Preacher, I didn't come here to pray. I came to fight!" He may have been more honest than a lot of us when it comes to conflict in the church.

Appeal for unity (1 Corinthians 1:10) Paul began his letter to the Corinthians with words of praise. He expressed his thanksgiving for the grace and knowledge and spiritual gifts they had received from the Lord. But there was something missing in the church. There was a spirit of division in the body that hindered their witness to the world. Paul would later say to this same group of believers, "If I speak in the tongues of men and angels ... If I have the gift of prophecy ... If I give all I possess to the poor ... but have not love, I gain nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

Disunity: evidence of worldliness (1 Corinthians 3:3-4) I remember a tract that was popular when I was in high school. It used these verses to describe a "carnal Christian." Although Paul's readers were Christians (note the word "Brothers") they acted like everyone else. Their jealousy and quarreling were evidence that they had not matured in their faith. I have witnessed conflict in churches that resembled two children fighting over a cat. It seemed that both parties would rather kill the cat than let go of their control. I asked a director of missions why some people seemed angry when new converts joined the church. "They don't see another child born into the kingdom," he replied. "All they see is another vote against them in a business meeting." God, save us from ourselves!

Role of leaders (1 Corinthians 3:5-9) The mindset that says, "I want things my way!" is contrary to the spirit of Christ. Jesus said, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28). Paul understood that he and Apollos were not competing for power or popularity in the church. He knew they were only servants of God, and only God could bring forth growth. He wanted God to receive all the glory for what happened in the church.

Jesus told a parable of a servant who had worked hard all day in the fields. Should he expect the master to cater to him when they get back to the house? Of course not. His response will be, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty" (Luke 17:7-10).

We need to remember that the church belongs to God. It's not about me!

Foundation of unity (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) Jesus is not only the foundation for the church; He is also the cornerstone (Eph. 2:20). As such, He provides the direction for the entire structure.

Some Baptists have interpreted Paul's appeal "that all of you agree with one another," to mean that we should all endorse the same statement of beliefs. They validate their position by quoting, "How can two walk together except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3, KJV).

It seems to me that if two have agreed to follow Jesus, they will not walk far from each other.

Seriousness of disunity (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) These verses are often misquoted as an argument against suicide. In fact, the verses address a different, yet just as serious, affront to God. The Greek word for "you" in verse 16 is actually plural. We would say, "Don't y'all know that y'all are God's temple?" The warning is against those who destroy the body of Christ through gossip, slander, discord and enmity.

I shudder when I think of some people who have torn churches apart. When you tear down the bride of Christ, you have to answer to Him.

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5/3/2002 12:00:00 AM by James Baldwin , 1 Corinthians 1:10; 3:3-17 | with 0 comments
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