Why is There Jealousy and Strife in the Church?

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:1-7 ESV)

There is a need for us to be secure in our faith, particularly after we become children of God through our belief in Jesus and his name. For some of us, we are still a bit unsettled because we don’t fully know the Bible and every doctrine of Christianity. In fact, much of the lingo confuses us and we try to study and understand what is being discussed amongst other believers.

What Paul does here is settle the matter by knocking down every argument that exists in the Church. We are supposed to unified under Christ, but we have different factions: Baptists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Greek Orthodox, etc. How do we choose a church with so many choices? Paul explained that God is the center of our faith, and that we can do nothing without him. We may teach and work in our service to him, but he is the one that blesses our efforts so they become effective. It his through his will and his power that our works even progress in a favorable way.

Yes, we need to study Scripture and understand its truths. But we must never complicate them when we teach them to fellow Christians. For example, collegiate studies are a source of inquiry where new ideas are explored and studied. Students are given a foundation of knowledge and fundamentals of faith, and research is performed to add more to the scholastic library. What often happens is that arguments for and against an idea creep from the world of academia and into the church where people begin to bicker over doctrine. This is not a new phenomenon as evidenced by Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians; it is all rooted in pride.

We need to keep it simple and not confuse each other, especially new believers. A mustard seed of faith in Jesus is all that everyone needs to be saved. After that, we nurture the process of growth by teaching and applying biblical truths, role modeling honorable and loving behaviors. Our Lord is not a God of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). So let us disciple each other in a systematic manner, and to always interact under the umbrella of love, grace, and truth. There is no need to argue over details. We need to exercise patience where its needed and always exhort in love. Sometimes we just have to wait for brothers and sisters to catch up before we move on to the next lesson. We shouldn’t get frustrated when we have to repeat a lesson. After all, how many times has God repeated an instruction to you until you actually did it?

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