Christians sometimes say they would like to be a New Testament church but I suspect they have a romanticized idea of what the early church was really like. Let’s consider these verses which reveal some of the conflicts in the early church:
Acts 6:1 – Widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food
Acts 11:1-3 – Peter was criticised for eating with Gentiles
Acts 15:1-5 – Jewish Christians wanted Gentile Christians to be circumcised
Acts 21:20-25 – Jewish believers lying about Paul’s teaching
1 Corinthians 1:11-13 – There were quarrels … some followed Paul, some followed Apollos
1 Corinthians 3:3-5 – There was jealousy
1 Corinthians 5:1 – There was sexual immorality … that even pagans didn’t tolerate
Galatians 2:4-5 – False believers had infiltrated the church
Galatians 2:11-14 – Paul opposed Peter
Philippians 4:2 – There was a disagreement between Euodia and Syntyche
James 4:1-3 – There were fights and quarrels
3 John 9 – Diotrephes, who loved to be first, didn’t welcome John
So perhaps being a New Testament church may not be such a good idea, after all?
When I studied church history, I discovered there has always been conflict in the church. There’ve always been disagreements over issues and personalities. On this side of heaven we’re always going to have problems in the church, so what are we to do?
We share communion and focus on what is most important. Paul wrote, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance …”. And what was it, that was of first importance? “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NIV).
It’s of first importance that we know that Christ died for our sins and rose again according to the Scriptures. After that everything else is secondary.
Let’s pray …
Thank you Lord for the opportunity to again focus on those things which are of first importance, that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. Help us to focus on the important and not allow problems and conflicts to distract us.
Thank you for the bread – a reminder of Christ’s body on the cross. He gave up his life for us so help us to be willing to give up our personal preferences in our church communities and to be tolerant of others for his sake.
Thank you for the cup – a reminder that we have new life through Christ’s shed blood. A new life where we are enabled to be more Christ-like.
In Jesus’ Name,
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