Sometimes the Bible speaks so clearly to our situations that it's almost painful to read.
In 2 Cor. 12, Paul talked about visiting the Corinthians again, but he was concerned about what he'd find when he arrived. Using Paul's concerns in 2 Cor.12:20-21, do a quick analysis of your church to see if any of these Corinthian issues is present in your congregation:
1. Discord and quarreling: Are members fighting? Do some seem to be always looking for a fight? Is the church tearing itself down rather than building itself up?
2. Jealousy: Is there rivalry within the body? Within groups? Within the staff? Are some struggling because they're losing their power?
3. Anger: Sometimes, the division marked by No. 1 and No. 2 above results in displays of anger. Do some members erupt in fits of rage? Are some exhibiting the ways of the flesh much more than the ways of the Spirit?
4. Selfish ambition: Does it appear that some members, including staff, not only want to lead the way but also want only their way? Do some jockey for power?
5. Slander: Do members involve themselves in backbiting, including telling and believing lies about others?
6. Gossip: Do some members talk more about others than about God? Do they whisper more to each other than they do to God?
7. Arrogance: Are some members know-it-alls? Do some see themselves as the protectors of the church's wisdom? Are some folks "puffed up"?
8. Disorder: Are there factions in the church? Are members choosing sides over any issues? Does chaos seem to reign? Is the community aware of disorder in the congregation?
9. Sexual sin: The Corinthian church had been tolerating sexual sin in the congregation. Does your church?
Paul was particularly concerned that the Corinthian church had not adequately addressed these issues, even though he had previously warned them. He didn't want to find them in the same state that had marked them before. If your congregation continually exhibits these characteristics, pray deeply for the members today.
Chuck Lawless is Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Global Theological Education Consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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