Scripture: 1Corinthians 1:10-17; Galatians 1:6-9
This week for our series Church and State: The Rise of Early Christianity, we are discussing the infighting the plagued Paul’s early churches. After Paul would establish a church, he would remain in a city anywhere from a few months to over a year before he would pack up and move on to a new location. To keep tabs on these churches, Paul would send his protégés to see how they were doing.
When the reports came back, almost every church had fallen into chaos. So Paul would sit down and write a letter addressing all the various issues that had arisen in the church. It shouldn’t be surprising that these churches were not functioning like well-oiled machines. In reality, Paul’s churches were really loose entities that lacked any kind of real structure.
When Paul decided it was time to go start a new church somewhere else, he would leave certain people in charge of overseeing the community. The problem is that these leaders didn’t have any real resources to help them when questions came up. There was no New Testament like we have today. There were no gospels talking about Jesus’ life. They didn’t even have other churches in close proximity where they could ask simple questions like, “Hey, how are you dealing with this issue?” Often, their church was the only church within a few hundred mile radius.
For all practical purposes, these people were operating in the dark because, once Paul left to go somewhere else, their primary source of information left as well. So when everyone in the church has only the most basic, tentative grasp on exactly what’s going on, and the person who’s holding it all together leaves, it’s not exactly shocking that they would succumb to infighting. Our goal is to understand what this infighting looked like and how, even though 2000 years have passed, we still find ourselves falling into the same traps in the 21st century.
I pray you would have a wonderful weekend. Please keep those who have lost lives and property through the various natural disasters around the world in your prayers. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!