Posted By Nan

1 Corinthians 1:10-17
One thing I am learning while writing this blog is that God’s timing does not necessarily involve me writing a blog twice a week as I have been doing. Sometimes, He gives  me a passage to ponder for longer. This one has certainly challenged me. It seemed so simple, yet I have found my self unable to write anything about it until today.
It seems simple. Be careful to be united with fellow believers and not fall into the ivory towers of Christian denominations. But that is not so simple. Looking back at the history of following Jesus, we can see a time when the group of believers grew into a church, centred on Rome. Then that church split into two factions, with the second faction centred on Constantinople (modern day Istanbul). Then, much later, anger at the secular nature of the Roman based church led to the Reformation. The protestant movement was born and the fallout from that caused much pain and suffering. As a child I remember my mother mentioning a friend who couldn’t attend a wedding because she was Catholic and the wedding was in a Protestant church. Her punishment for attending would have been excommunication. This was a service of fellow believers!
How did things get to that? When verse 10 of this reading is an admonition by Paul for unity of believers? How did we forget those words and fall into separate factions within the followers of Jesus?
Do we think things are any better today? It is true that we will not be excommunicated for attending a service in a different church, but I have encountered many people who look down on other denominations and question their faith, even question whether they are actually ‘saved’ or not. In this current day, churches are more likely to increase numbers by poaching people from other churches than by people coming to know Jesus as their saviour. And if that isn’t disunity, I don’t know what is.
And what of the increasing numbers of people who profess to be Christians but do not attend a church? In the last Australian census, people were asked their “religion” and giving a choice of a number of Christian denominations, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and other. As analysis of the census information started, it was noted that a lot of people had ticked “other” and, when asked what their religion was, written “Christian”. There are more followers of Jesus following Him from outside a denomination than are popularly believed to be. I was one who filled in the census form as “Other” and said I was “Christian”. I don’t identify with any denomination. I identify with God.
In this reading, Paul speaks of his serious concern that people were dividing themselves into groups. “I follow Paul.” “I follow Apollos.” “I follow Peter.” “I follow Jesus.” Paul asked if He had been crucified for the people of Corinth. He asked if Jesus had been chopped into little pieces so each group could have its own relic. He reminded the people that God had sent him out to preach the good news about Jesus Christ, not to gain a personal following. He was sent by God to teach people to follow Jesus.
Do the leaders and members of today’s churches believe they are there to preach the good news about Jesus and rejoice at a fellow believer? Or do they only rejoice if that believer attends their church?
God sent Paul out to speak the truth about Jesus who was crucified for our sins. He did not want the fact of Jesus’ sacrifice to be trivialised by becoming flowery words spoken in disagreement to other flowery words.
Be careful who you follow. May it be Jesus. May you never fall into the trap of trivialising what Jesus has done for you by becoming caught up in denominational ivory tower.

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