Labels and Division

My poor wife had to face the 3 year-olds all by herself this morning at church. I am still recovering from some kind of sickness and I was even refused to go to the edge of the room to retrieve the keys so I could go to a coffee shop to wait it out. So, as my wife shapes the hearts and minds of the three year olds I figured I would write about the sermon preached this morning.

The sermon came from 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 where Paul is rebuking the church at Corinth for their division. They were saying, “I follow Apollos”, “I follow Paul”, or “I follow Peter.” It is sobering to see how even that early on in the church men were dividing over silly issues. A good reminder today that the church is full of sinners in need of grace.

It is apparent that any time we find our identity in something other than the Person of Jesus Christ we will divide. This is what I don’t like about Celebrity Christianity that drives us so much in the church in the United States. There is this idea that the Pastor is the Rock Star and everyone comes to see his show. The more dynamic the more the following. What then happens is in the local churches and especially in the seminaries that everyone wants to be the Rock Star for Christ but no one wants to be the key grip.

We forgot that great axiom of the one who is greatest in the Kingdom is the least. We forget that Christ came not to be served but to serve.

So how does this play out today? Instead of saying “I follow Apollos” or “I follow Paul” we say, “I follow John Piper” or “I follow Mark Driscoll” or “I follow Matt Chandler”. The Greek reads literally “I am Apollos” (Ἐγὼ δὲ Ἀπολλῶ) as if the person is finding their identity in that person. This can be fleshed out in our denominations (I am Baptist, Methodist, Catholic) or theological systems (I am Calvinist, Arminian, Dispensational). We love labels and name brands and when we brand the church something other than Christ’s we breed division.

This is deeply convicting because I want to be associated with the group that is right, that is cool, that is edgy, and even somewhat exclusive. What it really says is that there is an unspoken competitive drive to be better, righter, holier. This reveals a gross pride within me that seems beyond strange at the foot of the cross where the Divine Humility hung. In Christ we are united and if we found our identity in Him there would be no room for division.

I sat before an incredible sermon that shown light on the darkest of places within my heart. I pray that I don’t walk away unchanged but I am shaped more about Who I believe instead of what I believe. May the men I admire in my life don’t become the Person but point to the Person. May Christians not be bound by human definitions like denominations, systematic beliefs, and ecclesiological preferences, but be freed of such divisions by the Person and Work of Jesus Christ alone.

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One Response to Labels and Division

  1. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

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