Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Cor 16:13
Isn’t it just like us humans, when dealing with multiple leaders, to try and take sides? Whether it be a job, a volunteer position, in our families, a group of friends, or at our churches so many of us seek to align ourselves with the best and strongest. If you’ve ever watched an episode of Survivor, you’ll see how drawn we are to this concept. But alliances and divisions lead to others being on the “out” and others being “in.” And so often if our seeking of alliances has anything to do with our church it only serves to erode our faith.
We see behavior that is ungodly. We, ourselves, take to gossip or manipulation. We celebrate the uplifted position of who we follow and revel in the failures of the “other side.” All along its our own relationship with Christ that is suffering.
When Paul wrote this letter, he was working with the up and coming faith leader Apollos. Within the Corinth church people had created a division amongst the two men. Who was the better leader to follow? It doesn’t appear that Apollos had anything to do with the strife taking place. In fact, Apollos seemed to try and head off any favoritism issues by telling Paul he wasn’t ready to return to Corinth.
In Jesus’ world everyone has the opportunity to be “in.” And as Christians, we are to fight against our tendencies to divide and conquer. We are to be always “on our guard” when we see these types of rifts arise around us. It takes courage to stand up to gossipers and the pull of others to align ourselves with the “right people.” It is faith-strengthening whenever we turn our backs on how the world wants us to act and turn toward how Jesus expects us to act.
A church I was at for almost 20 years was ruined by this type of behavior. It was reduced to almost ashes by people gathering up others to “their side.” And it’s sad to say it started within the pastoral and elder level. What we needed were a few courageous and strong faithful Christians to speak the truth and say “enough is enough.” The destruction of many people’s faith was truly one of the most disturbing things I have witnessed in a church.
“And yet, what are some Churches but semi-religious clubs, mere conventions of people gathered together? They have not in them that holy soul which is the essence of unity.”Charles Spurgeon
We can’t take a stand for our faith if we aren’t willing to step outside of our worldly, envious, fearful ways. When we go along and try to play the game of “who’s the best” and then try to align ourselves with them we fall prey to the devil’s divisiveness.
But when we stand firm in our faith and are courageous against those who wish to divide, God stands beside us cheering us on. And our faith is reignited when we walk with closely Him.