A preacher friend of mine once called me when (unbeknownst to him) I was having a hard time dealing with some church problems. He said, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I have found that ministry wouldn’t be half bad if it weren’t for people. That ‘cheered me up some’ and made me chuckle because ministry is people!! Always was always will be.
This church, any church is a complexity of people. People choose to walk away because they get miffed toward someone; or they have no friends (did they make any?); they don’t approve of what someone wears (or doesn’t wear); they stop attending because they ‘can live by faith apart from fellowship’; they get caught up in a sin and lose their zeal for Christ; they want their way; they don’t read their bible and don’t pray to become forgiving and more Christ-like; they listen more to the call of money than the call of The Master; they are lured by pleasure above purpose; and a host of other worries, concerns and poor choices.
But The Church is the goal of Christ, the purchase of Christ, the point of Christ. She is the rescue operation for the entire world. And she is with fault. But she is still the answer for all manor of lost people. She will survive. She belongs to Christ and is empowered by His Spirit.
Into this mess, this wondrous mess, wade the willing couple Aquila and Priscilla who know what they are signing up for. These are a married couple, people who are resolved to changing the course of peoples’ eternal history. I’m going to introduce you to them on Sunday and I am going to ask you to become like them . We meet them first in the city of Corinth. A church that ‘wrote the book on church problems.’ A church of people redeemed from the world and the reason the church keeps discipling the world into Jesus Christ.
Here’s a quote about the church in Corinth from Mark Moore former professor of Ozark Bible College and now one of the leaders in a church redeeming thousands of people in Arizona:
“The members came from just about every racial, religious, and economic strata of the city, though most were lower class (1 Cor 1:26). While this diversity is wonderful it caused a variety of problems. For example, there was boasting over who baptized whom (1 Cor 1:12), who was whose mentor (1 Cor 3:4-9; 4:14-15), and who spoke in tongues the most (1 Cor 14:12, 18). A couple of brothers bore a lawsuit against each other (1 Cor 6:1-11). One man didn’t have enough sense to abstain from sex with his father’s wife (1 Cor 5:1) while others were frequenting the brothels (1 Cor 6:16). There were wealthy people who could afford enough wine at the Lord’s Supper to get drunk while the poor were ostracized and went away from the meal hungry (1 Cor 11:17-22). This, of course, seems trivial in light of the fact that some were still sacrificing to idols before coming to the communion table (1 Cor 10:14-22). It was a mess … but what a beautiful mess! The message of the cross, in all its weakness (1 Cor 1:18-31), had penetrated the bowels of Rome’s economic center. The power of the resurrection (1 Cor 15:1-58) was transforming the elect in the midst of the world’s worst vices.
Some will criticize Corinth as a corrupt church. I cannot share that sentiment, for all her problems stemmed from the one thing she was doing well:
Calling all sorts and sundry to the cross with the promise that a resurrection changes everything. There was no other social group in all the ancient world that successfully bridged the social divides of economics, race, gender, and politics. The church of Jesus Christ was the only truly inclusive group. Though that caused some of her deepest problems, it is yet her greatest boast.”
The world is already doing all these things. And the church has the capacity to empower people to change and be transformed through meeting The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. CCA will continue to focus our attention to that cause and be unmoved by problems. You have problems either way! Let’s disciple more people into Christ’s Kingdom. You are invited to join the effort!
See you Sunday,