I cannot stand drama, especially in God’s church. It’s a pet peeve that I desire to see starved. Unfortunately some people thrive off of feeding it! Anger, jealousies, backbiting, slothfulness and irresponsibility can plague a congregation to death and when concerned Christians see these things happen it can be troubling to say the least. I have wondered to myself several times, “Why does it have to happen?” When things seem to be going good then the bad gets going. But then I remember that troubles in the church are nothing new.
In the midst of the church at Corinth troubled waters were being stirred. Religious divisions were being started (1 Corinthians 1:10-12), brothers and sisters were abusing and being abused by one another (1 Corinthians 6:7,6; 11:20,21), some were living in open sin (1 Corinthians 5:1, 9-11), their gatherings had become chaotic and unruly (1 Corinthians 14:26, 33-35), some were even denying the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12) plus much more (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; 4:18; 8:7). Talk about trouble!!!
This craziness was no doubt causing some of the Christians there to wonder why it was all happening. So what was the answer? Paul basically gives it in 1 Corinthians 11:19 – “For there must also be factions [heresies, divisions] among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.”
The negative is that the church had to deal with some real problems. None of these things were enjoyable but Paul said that they must happen to prove a point.
Burton Coffman had this to say in his commentary about Paul’s statement:
“A glimpse of the divine mind is in this. Christians who become upset and discouraged because of schisms, factions and other disorders in the church make a tragic mistake. As God used Satan in the Paradise of Eden to test the progenitors of the human race, he still tests the faith of all Christians. Church difficulties provide an opportunity for Christians to demonstrate that they are genuine followers of the Lord. God never intended that any man should move through life in a constant environment of encouragement and spiritual delight. There is a place in the experience of every Christian where “the rubber meets the road”; and his response to unfavorable, or even tragic, situations will determine whether or not he is “approved” of God. It should always be remembered that “many are called, but few are chosen.” – James Burton Coffman, Vol. VII, First and Second Corinthians, ACU Press, P.178
Problems will come and go but whoever stays through them will shine. Problems in the church can separate the spiritually dedicated from the spiritually dead. Paul said the problems would show who was approved of God.
The word approved comes from the Greek word “dokimos” and it has some interesting roots. On a computer program I have, a great insight concerning this word is given:
“In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into moulds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens, to stop the practice of shaving down the coins then in circulation. But some moneychangers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money. They were men of honor who put only genuine full weighted money into circulation. Such men were called “dokimos” or “approved”.” – Donald Barnhouse, The Bible Collection Deluxe, ValuSoft
The evils that face the church from time to time definitely contain some negatives but spiritually they are necessary because approval is something that comes from being tried, and being tried only comes by trails.
Think about it, and don’t be so quick to give up when problems start to get you down. EA
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3, NKJV)