There’s a cliché in sports that says, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” This is a favorite among gifted athletes, especially those who have set records, won championships and continually make the morning highlight reels. Their ability and athleticism is on display for all to see, and given the accomplishments, why should they not toot their own horn? Their fat paychecks and multiple trophies are a testament to their ability to “back it up.” And what if they can’t accomplish what they claim? Well, then it’s just bragging.
As the early church was established in Corinth, it wasn’t long before divisions arose between several groups. Some perhaps claimed to have special wisdom, others wealth. Whatever the issue, word got back to the apostle Paul that the church was in conflict. Paul reminded the Corinthians, as he reminds us, that the wisdom we have, the wealth at our disposal and the spiritual gifts we employ are all given by God through Christ Jesus. Apart from Christ, the church accomplishes nothing.
Throughout the ages and even today, the church is called to do extraordinary things with the gifts and talents God provides. Yet we still experience conflicts between members and rivalry among congregations. Some congregations are young and vibrant, others engage in dynamic ministries throughout the community, and still others are known for their faithfulness in worship. The bottom line is, no matter the ministry, the church accomplishes all of these and more through the power of our risen Lord Jesus.
As sinners in need of redemption, Christians have to know that as one member of the church succeeds in proclaiming the gospel, the whole church rejoices. Yes, some congregations are more active than others, and some pastors are better preachers. But it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we become doers of the gospel as Jesus calls us. And may the good works accomplished through the church give glory to God who enables his people through Christ the Lord.