Why do we draw our patterns for “what-church-should-be-like” from Paul’s correctives to the chaos in 1 Corinthians 12-14 rather than the exuberant harmony of Acts 2:42-47?
There are fewer verses in the latter — so it has an advantage there already!
But more than that – even though the Corinthian letter bears principles of great value – the greatest value is for churches which are in crisis; suffering from behavioral problems even during their times of gathered worship.
Are we accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative (as the old song goes) — or the reverse?
Does your church have a problem with severe jealousy over the gifts provided by the Holy Spirit intended for the blessing and encouragement of the body of Christ?
Is your church uncontaminated by genuine love for each other that shows in patience, kindness, humility, protection, trust, hope, endurance?
Does your church have women interrupting the speaker to say: “What? I don’t understand. Somebody explain that to me. That doesn’t make any sense”?
Does your church have people generally interrupting the speaker to say: “Oooh! Oooh! I just had a revelation from heaven! Shhh. Shhh. Let me share it!”?
Does your church have people interrupting the speaker, wailing and warbling in languages no one can understand, with no one around who can interpret?
Does your church gather with everyone having their own idea of what the (dis)order of worship should be – and demonstrating their willingness to make theirs happen right now?
All while visitors are sitting there, wondering what in tarnation is going on?
Well, Corinth apparently did. So Paul wrote them to encourage them to calm things down, do things in a decent order, show courtesy, take turns, keep things intelligible, and above all glorify God.
My guess is that people pretty much do that in your church as they do in mine, even if grudgingly sometimes.
So back to the original question.
Do our churches devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching, prayers, breaking of bread?
Are visitors awed with signs and wonders of near-miraculous changes in the lives of people touched?
Do we stick together and share everything we have?
Do we sell our property and possessions and give the proceeds to any among us who has need?
Do we meet every day at our church building campuses, putting them to some use more than just on Sunday?
Do we have each other over to the house frequently to dine, break bread, express gladness with sincere hearts?
Do we praise God constantly?
Do we consistently enjoy the favor of people around us?
Is the Lord adding to our number daily those who are being saved?
Have we got all of that part down yet — done the really difficult, challenging, character-building part of living like Christ in front of others — before we go on to the stage where rules must restrict behavior that isn’t even present?
I think I just answered my own question.
13 thoughts on “Why This Church and Not That Church?”
Keith, you have picked some comparatively minor points out of 1 Corinthians in order to establish its purpose/worth. Paul wasn’t attempting to correct isolated examples of one-up-man-ship or selfishness in the Corinthian congregation. He was citing the overwhelming evidence that they did not understand the value/worth/purpose of the church. They were stuck in worldliness as expressed by a lack of unity/harmony. It was this lack of love for one another that led to the selfish displays you cited. Paul wanted the Corinthian church to return to the unity and love for one another that is taught in the Acts 2 passage you (rightly) hold up for our consideration. It’s not a choice between 1 Cor OR Acts. First Corinthians helps us see some of the ways to implement what is taught in Acts 2.
I would love for our church to look more like the one in Acts 2…
I think you may be on to something with this, Keith. Do we, individually, not do this as well. Most of us identify our goodness more in terms of being unlike John Q. Sinner than being more like the Christ. It is far easier for us to compare ourselves to the standard breaker than to the standard bearer.
Ooh, good thought, AG. That would explain why it’s much easier (and seems to come more naturally) for us to collectively focus on not doing the bad things Corinth did, rather than actually putting forth the effort to DO the things described in Acts 2…meeting every day, sharing everything, teaching others about Christ.
I had an idea some time back for a post about the ease of prosecuting Somebody Else’s Sin – rather than the difficulty of trying to conquer My Own Sin. But I haven’t written it yet.
“Why This Church and Not That Church?”
Pleasent Valley, church of Christ, (view of God)
God eternally exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
These three are co-equals and are one God. (the trinity doctrine, in it’s rawest
Southside Church of Christ, Mineral wells, Texas. (my home church)
There is only one God. He is the creator of all life and the supreme ruler of the
universe. God is a single person who shows himself to men as the Father, Son and
Holy Spirit. ( my words added, the creator, the savior, the comforter)
There is a great difference in how these two CoC,s see God. one sees God as
three persons,( not in scripture) the other sees God as one almighty person using
three ways to show humanity their God. (proven in many scriptures) I happen to
agree with the latter.
We use the best words we can to describe the indescribable One. Been missing you, laymond.
How about using the words that are spoken in the bible, Keith, it works for a lot of us.
Keith, I have been reading, waiting for someone, anyone, to say why they chose one church over the other. We switched membership from southside a few years ago (reason, we were getting crowded, and the smaller church needed the members, and quite frankly it was closer to the house) I asked the preacher if the smaller church would be fine for our family, and being the friend he was, he said he didn’t see anything wrong with it. He was to retire soon, he has retired completly since then(God rest his soul) We spent about four years in the smaller church, before the question of “the trinity” came up. and the preacher started preaching, Jesus is God. and needless to say many of the old Southside members” went back home. I remember as if it were yesterday, during the sermon, one of the older ladies turned to me and asked, “what did he say” I replied “yes dear, you heard it right” she fidgeted through the rest of the sermon, and I soon saw her at
Southside”. I would like to hear som specifics as to why your readers attend where they do. If I can they can.
Would be interesting, I guess … but not really what this post is about. Probably would have been more accurate to title it “Why Corinth and not Jerusalem?”
Well, as you probably have figured out, I kind of like the Jerusalem way.
One more query, if I might be allowed. Is your readers belief in the “trinity doctrine” because their church teaches it, or have they actually read, and understand, what it says.?
I did not what was that expression at the end of your topic after I went to the Urban dictionary and I saw the definition ! If we want to be christ like we need to avoid that kind of expression that looks less offensive but the scripture teach us to use that kind of words that are going to show at the Judgement day ! Matthew 12:36-37
36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Like Christ followers (Christians) we need to use our words ” Spoken and in written” carefully and control that kinds of expressions but that is the spiritual battle constantly while we are in this world. Let’s follow the teaching of the apostle Paul that said: Ephesians 4:29″ Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” For the love of your soul.. Here I share a video about the Body (church) of Christ about the truth about the Church http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhHqu92b-UI&feature=related
Guest for truth, no offense was intended. Here in the United States, it is an expression that is no more offensive than “for crying out loud.” Especially in the South, where I live.
In the North, people just snicker at it as a quaint Southern colloquialism.