1 Corinthians

When Differences Become Divisive


In 1 Corinthians 3, Christians were arguing and dividing their church over personal preferences. Since there were no other churches in Corinth, when preferences weren’t being met, factions were formed. (To clarify, a “preference” is an opinion on an open-handed issue that is not central to the gospel, examples can include worship or preaching styles. In contrast, “convictions” are close-handed issues of major theological importance, often relating to salvation.)

Two thousand years later, followers of Jesus still  divide over similar issues. And while we don’t create factions within the church, the normative response when preferences aren’t met is to find a church that does. 

So what’s wrong with trying to find a church that most agrees with your preferences? 

The problem is,  when we elevate preferences to a primary level of importance,  we turn into consumers rather than covenant servants - we develop an attitude that says, “I’ll serve you only if you serve me first.” When Western consumerism like this takes hold, we miss out on a crucial opportunity to die to our desires and preferences for the sake of others.

Unity not Uniformity

When it comes to preferences, Jesus doesn’t call for uniformity - where we all agree on everything, from worship style, preaching style, groups style - He calls for unity, where we all agree on our convictions as prescribed in Scripture, (in other words, we want to major on what the Bible majors on.) So rather than leave or grow bitter over preferential differences, our call is to love, serve, and submit to others who think differently than you. 

When this happens, we become an anti-narrative to the “me”-centric culture in our world. We are telling others that Jesus is bigger than our preferences. What Jesus demands of us is bigger and better than our demands. 

Of First Importance

So while we must cling to the non-negotiable truths, (what Paul calls in 1 Corinthians 15:3 of first importance), we need to recognize that many issues are not worth fighting over or leaving. Instead, we should be quick to suspect our motives, quick talk to others with differing perspectives and quick to listen with a posture of humble understanding.

As we grow as a church family despite our differences, we can show the world a community where diversity is embraced without being divisive.

  • Do you have any preferences you are lifting up as first importance?

  • In what ways can you die to self to better love, serve, and submit to others?

10 Steps to Handle Conflict Better and Avoid Drama

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Two thousand years ago in Corinth, Christians in the church were struggling to manage their relationships well. They were letting their conflicts divide them rather than unite them, and they needed some instruction on how to manage their relational conflicts well. Today, we face many of the same challenges within our relationships, and if we don’t equip ourselves to handle conflict well, we will allow our relationships to suffer and our church family won’t be much of a family at all. Thankfully, God offers us hope in I Corinthians 6, where He instructs the Corinthian church in how to manage their relational conflict well. Because we know that God wants us to experience deep, rich relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can glorify Him as we learn from His Word and apply it to our lives.

So, here’s ten steps for handling conflict well:

1 - See it coming. Having the right expectations will lessen your frustrations.

2 - Commit to forbearance. Understand that some sins can be forgiven without confrontation.

3 - Give the benefit of the doubt. Assuming others’ motives can increase your resentment.

4 - Go to the person. A hard conversation today can prevent an outburst tomorrow.

5 - Invite and welcome correction. Trust that others might have a better perspective than you.

6 - Do not cover disobedience with alternate language. Using modern counseling lingo to avoid repenting will only delay reconciliation.

7 - Avoid gossip and slander. “Venting” won’t benefit yourself, but processing the situation with a trusted friend will.

8 - Pour out your heart to God. God is our refuge, so pour out your heart in prayer.

9 - Forgive. Refusing to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

10 - Keep forgiving. Let’s follow Jesus’ example and forgive each other no matter how many times we sin against each other.

Although God has reconciled us to Him and each other in so many ways, we still sin against Him and each other, so we’ll have to learn to confront and forgive each other in order to be a Jesus-centered family on mission. Our culture teaches us that conflict is unnatural and that you should disconnect from relationships when they’re hard, but we know that this idea places an unrealistic and unhealthy expectation of relationships. As we grow together as a family, conflicts are inevitable, but our conflicts can bring us closer together if we commit to working through our frustrations when they arise. Conflict is a part of being a family, and if we forgive each other and reconcile with each other as God intended for us to do, we can experience deeper relationships, less drama, and more joy as we pursue God together.

  • If you’re in conflict with anyone, what next steps do you need to take?

  • What’s keeping you from reconciling immediately?

This article is based on the sermon “Death by Drama” by Adam Gibson from October 7, 2018.

On Miraculous Gifts

In our sermon from last Sunday we described two theological camps on prophecy, tongues and other miraculous gifts. These camps, called cessationism and continuationism, are both filled with faithful, Spirit-filled Christians who back up their positions with Scripture. Because we have unity in Jesus, no matter where you land on the topic, we have plenty of room for disagreement and friendly debate without causing division