Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-3
1 Brothers and sisters,I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly-mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk,not solid food,for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed,you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you,are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? (NIV)
Churches are like families. As a result,they are not perfect. They comprise people who are nursing wounds,facing challenges,and needing to somehow relate to others in the same boat. Little wonder that passages such as this occur in the letters to the early church. No family is free of problems; no church is free of problems.
We can sometimes assume that the problems between church members relates simply to issues within the church. A disagreement about music,preaching,rosters,liturgy,or leadership style is self-explanatory. But this may not be the case.
We so often have other,deeper issues in our lives. They ‘come out’ within the church and express themselves in a different way. A dissatisfied wife might take out her frustration on the inefficient kids’ church program. An unappreciated employee might take out his anger on the person who chooses the wrong sorts of songs for the church. A confused adolescent may vent their irritation by gossiping about the youth leader.
The problems and conflicts within the church family may be expressions of problems and conflicts in our earthly families. Since we can’t expect perfection from our birth families,we can’t expect it from our church family. We therefore don’t expect God to clean up every family difficulty: we expect him to help us live gracefully with our own and others’ imperfections.