The divisions in our country continue to get worse and there is more polarity today than at any time in my life. Likewise, there are more divisions in the church than I have ever seen and I am reminded of the dissertation that I wrote for my Doctor of Theology degree.
I wrote my final work on the deceptions of Satan in our lives – how Satan tries to divide us in our churches, our theology, our families, workplaces and our marriages. In other words, Satan and his fallen angels are all around us – trying to divide us and diminish our effectiveness for the kingdom of God. Satan is always looking for people who are weak in their faith and even though believers know the eventual outcome, that Jesus wins, that doesn’t stop Satan from trying to strengthen his position.
Satan has tried to divide us from the earliest times, including with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In fact, Paul talks about this very issue in his first letter to the Corinthians as he outlines the problems that he as been made aware of. The people of God were being supportive of the person who had baptized them rather than recognizing that it’s all about Jesus – not who baptized them.
In modern team dynamics training, we refer to this as the First Team concept. Most people believe that the most important team that they are on is the one that they lead. Wrong! The most important team that you are in is the one where you have the lowest position. For example, if you are a mayor of a city and the President asks you to serve on a national team in some capacity, this new position becomes your first team. It can have a greater, broader impact than you can have as the mayor of a city.
That’s because the greater the team, the more impact it can have throughout the world. We can use the same illustration in the church community. We can be Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist or any other Christian denomination, but first and foremost, we are on God’s team. The team led by Jesus. That trumps any other team that we could possibly be a part of. Think of the impact that we could have if we were singularly focused on expanding the Kingdom of God without regard for who gets the credit.
The team that Jesus leads, and that we are part of, will reign eternally and if we identify with a specific denomination, that pales in comparison to what it means to identify directly with Jesus. We would all do well to pray about what team we really want to identify with – our first team! Maybe if we all did that, we wouldn’t have the kinds of divisions that we have in the church, or the country, today.
Our verse for tonight highlights the problem that Paul saw in the Corinthian church. It was clearly a first team problem. People supported the one who baptized them rather than serving Jesus. So Paul set the record straight with a lesson on who they should be focused on – Team Jesus!
Paul tells us, in his first letter to the church at Corinth, that to focus on who baptized them was wrong – they were focused on the wrong thing. Paul tells the church, and us, in 1 Corinthains 1:10-13, 17, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas’”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? …….. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to focus on the things that can make the largest eternal impact – leading people to Him. My prayer is that we can all get better at realizing who our first team really is. Let’s not let the little things divide us. As humble servants of the most high God, who could ever doubt that we should identify with Christ as members of Team Jesus! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…