Don't Be Divided
Brothers & SistersPastor Jerry Gillis - February 5, 2023
Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group give a brief recap of Sunday’s message, highlighting the primary Scripture passages and main idea of the message.
- How did this message strengthen, confirm and/or correct your previous ideas about division in the Church between brothers and sisters?
- Describe your relationships with your family. How are these relationships similar to and different from your brothers and sisters in the family of God?
- What does it mean for a group of people to be unified? What steps can we take as brothers and sisters in the family of God to become more unified in action, in our mouths and in our minds?
- What is the danger of succumbing to divisions based on leaders or denominations in the church? Have you been tempted toward this before?
- How can we hold ourselves and each other accountable to following Jesus Christ as opposed to leaders or denominations in the church?
- Spend time praying as a group. Pray for unity as brothers and sisters in the family of God. Pray for unity within your Community Group, within our Church family, and within the Church of Western NY.
- Well, good morning, everybody. So good to see you. I am thrilled to be here this morning. Grateful to be with you here at this campus, at Niagara Falls, at Cheektowaga, at Lockport, those watching online. So glad to be with you. There's a man named Dr. Tom Rainer, and he is a consultant. He does research, formerly a seminary professor as well, and a number of years ago, he conducted a Twitter poll and he asked all of those that were following him if they could tell him stories of maybe the silliest church arguments or church divisions that they've ever heard of. Well, he got a really, really long list of ridiculous kinds of things, as you can imagine, and he put together kind of a top 25 of those, and I'll give you a couple of samples here. There's a bunch of them, but these are real people reporting from real churches about real things that happened. In one church, they got into a church-wide argument over the proper length of the worship pastor's beard. It caused great division in the church. Yeah, great, awesome. There was another church that reported that they got into a big church-wide dispute about which picture of Jesus to hang in the foyer. I don't know if you know this, but no one actually took a picture of Jesus. We don't have any of those, so it's a stupid argument, right? Which one of these likenesses that we don't know if it looks like him should we hang up in the foyer? Then there was coffee. Yes, a church reported that they had great issue over the switch from Folgers to Starbucks, and it became a big issue. Some of you are coffee snobs and you're going, "I could see where that would be a big issue." Well, yeah. Then there was another one that also reported coffee trouble, and they didn't even switch brands. They went from one blend to a stronger blend, and people left the church because of it. That's ridiculous. I don't even drink coffee because I'm a man of unity. I'm also a man of no caffeine, so I wake up tightly wound, and I just kind of let it go from there. Then there was this one, and I'll stop, 'cause these are all just so ridiculous. There was a church-wide issue, I mean, they brought it to a business meeting because they talked about inviting the church to a potluck dinner, and some people rejected that term and said it should be potblessing. These things really happen in churches. No wonder people don't want to go to them, right? No wonder, if this is the kind of thing. These are silly, they're ridiculous. They should rightly be laughed at, but it's also sad, isn't it, that these are the kinds of things that actually occur. Now, there's other divisions that are maybe less things to laugh at, and usually they're over personalities. They're divisions that happen in the church because of personalities, maybe even leadership personalities. I know of two churches that are not in this state, they're outside of this state, but in the United States. I know personally of two churches where one of the pastors that were there, there were multiple pastors, and one of the pastors there, you know, people started bending his ear and saying, "You know, we like you a lot better than the other guys." Right? Or whatever. And these pastors actually left their church, took a bunch of people with them, and started a church right in the backyard of the church that they left. It was unbelievable, because they started hearing things like this. "You know, you're actually our favorite. You are. You're our favorite," or, "You know, pastor, we really wish that you were just the lone pastor, 'cause you're like, you know," or, "You know, we like you so much, if you ever decided to do anything on your own, wink, wink, you know, we'd love to go with you." That kind of stuff, and you know what, those pastors didn't have? They didn't have the maturity to resist the cult of personality. They didn't have it. Now, if you think that issues surrounding these types of things are new to us, they're not. They've existed since the beginning of the church. These things are not new to us. In the early church, particularly in Corinth, which we're going to be looking in the book of 1 Corinthians over the next number of weeks. In fact, probably the next couple of months. In the book of 1 Corinthians in the New Testament, you're gonna find that this was a church that walked through and had to deal with some of these types of issues. Now, Corinth was an interesting mix of people because Corinth was a relatively new church at the time when Paul was writing at this time, and it was a very spiritually gifted church. That's a wonderful thing. The spiritual gifts were present and obvious in Corinth, and that was a great thing, but their level of maturity was very low, so you had a very gifted church with a very low level of maturity in Corinth. In fact, a number of these folks had been believers less than three years, some maybe on the high end, three years since Paul was with them. And so it's really a kind of a unique scenario, a really gifted church, but a really, really immature type of place. Now, Paul had started this church when he had founded this church, and he spent about a year and a half, according to Acts chapter 18, he spent a year and a half with them in Corinth, ministering to them and teaching them and discipling them, and now he was gone. And so what he was doing is he was now writing this letter to Corinth from Ephesus, more than likely, and he was writing it, not just because he felt like writing it, but because he had received a letter or letters, probably more specifically from the Corinthians. He had received some letters from them, and he was responding to them, and in their letters, they were kind of at times pushing back on some of the things that Paul was actually saying, and Paul was trying to write back to them, and many times in 1 Corinthians, you'll see Paul using quotation marks where he's quoting, theoretically, quoting from their letters. "You said this, and here's what I'm doing to help correct you or help you understand some things." So this is why Paul is actually writing. What he's trying to do is functionally say, "You guys need to stop being so divided about stuff. You're getting divided over things that are dividing you from one another in Corinth, and you're doing things that are dividing you from me," Paul is saying, that, "Basically you're doing things that are dividing you from your family, from the brothers and sisters in Christ among you, and from me specifically." It reminds me that they were so busy kind of taking shots at one another and doing things that were causing discord among one another. They were really wasting their energy. I remember reading about the Battle of Quebec, where Admiral Phips from the British Army was leading kind of the naval side, and he showed up and they were fighting against the French back in that battle, as you can imagine, there in Quebec. And he comes out into the harbor or the bay there outside of Quebec, looking out at the city, and his orders were to stay there and to anchor down because eventually the ground troops were gonna be coming in and his job was to support the ground troops. He had cannon fire and that kind of stuff, that he could support the ground troops. Remember, late 1750s. So anyway, he gets there and he's anchored in the harbor, and he's looking out at Quebec, and he sees all of these buildings with statues of saints on them. They're all over the place there in Quebec, right? And he's getting irritated by them. So he commands his ship to unload the cannons at the statues of the saints on the buildings. And so they start destroying all of those buildings there. Well, eventually the ground troops come, and they're like, "We need your support," and he realizes something. He's used all his ammunition blowing up the saints. That's what we don't want to happen in the church. Don't use all your ammunition to blow up the saints. There's a real war that we're fighting in the world that we live in against an enemy who hates us, and so be careful not to be divided. Paul is talking about that very idea, and he's going to make an appeal to the church at Corinth specifically about that, and then he's gonna talk about the problem that they face. Let me walk you through it. We're in the book of 1 Corinthians chapter number one, and here's the first thing, is that he makes an appeal, and the appeal is this. Unity in Jesus. This is what Paul starts out his appeal by saying to them. Now pick up with me in verse number 10 of chapter one. It says this. Paul writes, "I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought." If you picked up in verse number 10, he gives you kind of, there's two different things that he's talking about there that he's appealing to the unity of Jesus in, but he's couching that in this. "I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." This is where Paul is grounding the unity that he is appealing to them about, that we are unified in the Lord Jesus Christ. When he uses the phrase, "In the name of," he's talking about everything about Jesus that represents his character, his nature, his teaching, that's the in the name of. It captures all of that at the same time. And so he's grounding their unity in the name of Jesus Christ, and then he appeals to two different forms of unity. The first is the unity of family. Here's why I'm saying that, because if you read in the very beginning of verse number 10, the A part of that, it says, "I appeal to you," watch this, "brothers and sisters," right? So Paul is appealing, he's couching all of this unity in Jesus, but then he's talking about unity in the family of Jesus, and he says, "I appeal to you, brothers and sisters." That word in the Greek language is adelphoi, and in some of your translations, you may be reading it and it may say, "I appeal to you, brothers," but that word adelphoi actually translates both brothers and sisters. It means both. It means the whole of the family, and it's used all throughout the New Testament. Now, what's interesting about that is that Paul uses this term over and over again in 1 Corinthians. It's why I actually titled this series "Brothers & Sisters," because Paul has all of these instructions that he's giving, and he'll say, "Brothers and sisters, do this. Brothers and sisters, don't do this. Brothers and sisters, do this. Brothers and sisters, don't do this." This is what Paul is actually doing. He's appealing to the unity that we have in the family of God as brothers and sisters. Just in 1 Corinthians, he uses that phrase 22-plus times, at least 22. There may be other times. 22 times he's using the phrase brothers and sisters. Why? Because you and I need to understand something that Paul is trying to help them understand, and it's this. When we recognize that we are brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, unified in Jesus, it actually tamps down divisions that happen among us. You see, we have a difficult time in our culture that is very selfish and individualized and consumer-driven, we have a difficult time internalizing that those who have put their faith in Jesus are our brothers and sisters. We often, too often look at one another as, "Oh, yeah, they are a part of the same club that I'm a part of because they go to the same church that I go to." It's that kind of idea, right? No different than talking about something else where you all, you know, I've got my soccer family, and I've got my work family. No, no, no, we're not talking about that. We're talking about actual unity in Jesus that has made us, spiritually speaking, brothers and sisters and when we actually treat one another that way, when we actually look at one another that way, as brothers and sisters, it allows for us not to be so divided over lesser things, because when we don't internalize this, it affects personal relationships, so we're not treating our brothers as brothers, we're not treating our sisters as sisters. And think about how you treat your brother or sister. Now, some of you may have come from difficult backgrounds and difficult family backgrounds, and you go, "Yeah, let's not use my family as an example," right? I realize that. I can understand that. This is, however, what should be the sanctified way that we view one another as brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. We don't objectify. We don't dehumanize. These are our brothers and our sisters in the body of Christ. It affects relationships when we don't internalize that. It also affects congregations and our ability to work together on the mission of God. So it's not about looking at them based upon just their name. Oh, they're Methodist. Oh, they're Baptist. Oh, they're Lutheran. Oh, they're Assembly of God. Oh, they're non-denominational and think they're better than everybody, right? It's not about that, because we have to recognize that everybody who truly believes the gospel and puts their faith and trust in Jesus, these are our brothers and our sisters in the family of God, and Paul is appealing to that unity that we have in Jesus. I remember reading about John Wesley having a dream, and in his dream, he said that he was at the door of hell, and he knocked on the door and he said, "Just curious, do you have any Methodists there?" Answer came back, "Yeah." "Do you have any Baptists there?" "Yeah." "You have any Assemblies of God there?" "Yep." "Have any Lutherans?" "Yep." "Have any non-denom..." "Yep." And every question he asked, "Yep, yep, yep." He said in the same dream, he found himself at the door of heaven, and he knocked on the door and started asking the same questions. "You got any Methodists there?" "Nope." "Any Baptists?" "Nope." "Any non-denoms?" "Nope." "Any Assemblies of God?" "Nope." And he finally says, "Well, who's inside?" "Just the family of God." And he recognized the appeal to unity that we have in Jesus. And Paul makes that appeal very early, talking about the unity of family, but he also talks about the unity of mouths and minds, and he's appealing to this unity in Jesus, right? Listen to what he says in verse number 10. He says, "That all of you agree with one another in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought." Now he's saying, "I'm not only appealing to your unity in Jesus as a family, but I'm appealing to your unity in Jesus in your mouths and in your mind." Paul is not saying that he's looking for uniformity. He's looking for unity around Jesus. Here's the thing, brothers and sisters, that we need to remember, the world needs to hear a unified testimony of who Jesus actually is. They need to hear it from our mouths, they need to hear it from our minds that we have a unified testimony of who Jesus is. Because what the enemy wants to do is he wants to sow all kinds of things into our hearts and into our minds that will cause us to disassociate from one another and not allow the unity that is in Jesus Christ to win the day. Because that is where we need to be, and Paul makes that first appeal because of the witness that it would be to the world, that our mouths and our minds need to be thinking as Jesus thought, need to be speaking as Jesus spoke, because that's what the world desperately needs to hear. So the first thing he does, he makes an appeal, and that's to unity in Jesus. Why does he make that appeal? Because there's a problem, and here's the problem. Division over leaders. This is the problem. Now, as I told you, this isn't a new problem to us. It was a problem for them. Watch in verse 11 and 12. "My brothers and sisters," see, he uses that phrase again, "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." That's Peter. That's coming from kind of the Aramaic Kepha of Peter's name, kind of the Aramaic form of that name, but that's referencing Peter. "And still another, "I follow Christ." You see the problem here? See, they were divided over leaders. So Paul, he finds this out, right? However, he found it out, he found it out through Chloe's household. Now you're going, "Well, who's Chloe?" I don't know, Chloe. She had a household. Literally all we're told in the New Testament is that she's Chloe, and he found out through Chloe's household. Now, that could mean, and some scholars have speculated Chloe may have been a wealthy businesswoman who may have lived in Corinth or may have lived in Ephesus and may have had workers that were associated kind of with her household that would move back and forth between Corinth and Ephesus doing business and therefore had an an opportunity to access Paul. That's a possibility, but the truth is, we don't actually know. Here's what we can pretty much kind of conclude, though. Chloe was a trustworthy sister, because Paul referenced her and said, "I've heard this information," from someone that he deems trustworthy, "and from Chloe's household, here's what I've heard. There's quarrels going on among you. There's divisions that are going on among you." And what were those divisions? They were this. "I follow Paul." "Well, I follow Apollos." "Well, I follow Peter." "Well, I follow Christ." That's what we had going on. You can imagine what that would look like, right? Some people that are wanting to follow Paul. Paul was the founding apostle of Corinth, right? I mean, this was the guy, and you could understand that, that people would have some allegiance to Paul. And then what about Apollos? You're probably going, "Well, who was Apollos? I don't even know who that was." Well, if we went back into Acts chapter 18, you would see pretty clearly right here. "Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. And he was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, and they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia," which is where Corinth is, "the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. And while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus." So Apollos was a brilliant man, a really good speaker, and an apt apologist, so he had an ability to be able to communicate about who Jesus was as Messiah from the Scriptures themselves. And what about Peter? Why would they be talking about Peter? You might be asking yourself, "Did Peter ever show up in Corinth? Was he ever there?" I don't know for sure, but I think the likelihood is really high. Most scholars that I have consulted have said, yep, pretty solid chance that Peter had come through Corinth. In fact, Paul actually, he kind of alludes to this just a little bit a little bit later on in 1 Corinthians when he talks about traveling around and preaching the gospel. Listen to what he says in 1 Corinthians chapter nine. He says, "Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Peter?" So in other words, what was happening is that Peter was actually traveling around to some of the churches with his wife, and so my guess is is that Peter probably showed up in Corinth, and may well have, some of them may have come to faith under Peter's ministry. Peter may have actually baptized them while he was there, and so they're kind of in the Peter crowd, right? And then you've got the, "Well, I follow Christ," crowd. Now, what does that mean? Well, remember Paul is actually quoting them. When you look in your text, you'll see quote marks around, "I follow Paul," "I follow Peter," "I follow Apollos," "I follow Christ." He's actually quoting them because this is what some people were saying. Now, I find it interesting that their slogan was, "I follow Christ." It wasn't, "I follow Jesus," it was, "I follow Christ." You see, in that context, there was a budding time in the early church where these people called Gnostics, which which were kind of mystics, who were not much for the earthly Jesus, but made something out of what they considered to be this mystical Christ. It could have been people that were following into that kind of thinking, right? They were thinking about this mystical Christ and this special knowledge and revelation with this mystical Christ. They were dividing Jesus, basically, which you can't really do. Or it could have been people who just thought that they were spiritually superior to everyone else, and while all these other people are saying, "Well, I follow Paul," "I follow Apollos," I follow Peter," and they were like, "Well, I follow Christ. You immature people, get out of here," right? It might have been that. There is no way to tell, but none of it was actually good, because all of it was eating at, ultimately, their unity in Jesus Christ. Now, you can imagine how those conversations were going among the people in Corinth, can't you? People who are aligning themselves with a personality. You can just imagine that, right? "Well, I follow Paul. I don't know what the rest of you stupid people doing. Paul founded this thing. He's the one who came, brought the gospel, right? Jesus showed up to him on the road to Damascus. You remember when he was with us? He spent a year and a half here. How could you not follow after Paul?" "Because Paul's boring. You remember he was speaking one time and there was a guy named Eutychus, and he fell out of a window, he was so bored." "Apollos, that dude can bring it. He's super smart. He's a really good communicator. Apollos has a golden tongue. I love Apollos. I want Apollos to do all the speaking." Then there's somebody else who's over here like, "Yeah, I'm going with Peter. Peter actually walked with Jesus. I'm not even sure if Paul is truly an apostle, 'cause he's like after the fact. Peter, he's an OG. He's original. He walked with him. He walked on the water, too. I don't know, anybody else, anybody else, anybody? I know he went down a little bit, but he walked for a little while. It's more than the rest of us have done." And then somebody else is like, "Well, I follow Christ, because I'm into this mystic stuff, and I've got this special understanding of..." You can just see how all of this was going and how divisive it would be. And ultimately, what we've gotta realize is celebrity culture in the church is not a new thing. It was going on then, and it goes on now. There are people in this day and age that want to make their spiritual leaders into rock stars. That's what they want. They're trying to make you into rock stars. And then if they're not doing it, some that are in spiritual leadership are trying to make themselves into rock stars. "Look at how many followers I've got on Twitter, and look at how many followers I've got on Instagram, and I'm constantly posting content, and I'm constantly getting my name..." Like hey, whatever, but none of that is going to be good for our souls as leaders, and none of it is going to be good for our brothers and sisters in the family of God. It will not be a good thing, and Paul, listen to this, Paul wasn't having it. Paul wasn't having it, even though he was the one, he was one of the ones that they were going, "Well, I follow Paul." Could that have made him blow up and go, "Hey, now those people are talking. That's the smart group in Corinth. They follow me. Yeah, you're right. I did found your place. I am the guy who came and brought the gospel there. That's right. All these other..." He didn't do any of that. He just wasn't having it, 'cause he was too mature to fall for the cult of personality. He wasn't going to allow for that to happen.
- You can just see how all of this was going, and how divisive it would be. And ultimately, what we've gotta realize is celebrity culture in the church is not a new thing. It was going on then, and it goes on now. There are people in this day and age that want to make their spiritual leaders into rock stars. That's what they want. They're trying to make you into rock stars. And then if they're not doing it, some that are in spiritual leadership are trying to make themselves into rock stars. "Look at how many followers I've got on Twitter and look at how many followers I've got on Instagram, and I'm constantly posting content and I'm constantly getting my name..." Hey, whatever, but none of that is going to be good for our souls as leaders, and none of it is going to be good for our brothers and sisters in the family of God. It will not be a good thing, and Paul, listen to this, Paul wasn't having it. Paul wasn't having it, even though he was the one, he was one of the ones that they were going, "Well, I follow Paul." Could that have made him blow up and go, "Hey, now those people are talking. That's the smart group in Corinth. They follow me. Yeah, you're right, I did found your place. I am the guy who came and brought the gospel there. That's right. All these other..." He didn't do any of that. He just wasn't having it, 'cause he was too mature to fall for the cult of personality. He wasn't going to allow for that to happen. So he appeals to their unity in Jesus, because there's a problem, and that's a division over leaders, and then he asks some questions, and the questions are about whose name really needs to be exalted in this. Notice the questions that he asks in verse number 13 and following. "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else." Isn't it great? He's just writing, and it's awesome. He's just writing, right? He's like, "I didn't baptize anybody. Crispus, I did, and Gaius, I did, yeah. Those two, right? But beyond that, nobody else can say that I baptized them. Stephanas, Stephanas, right? I did him, and I don't remember if anybody else." But you get the picture, right? That's kinda what Paul's saying. But he's asking questions. He's saying, "Is Christ divided? Of course he can't be divided. Was Paul crucified for you?" And notice Paul's showing great tact, because Paul is one of three others that were named, Paul, Peter, Apollos, right? He doesn't use their names. He's showing great deference and great tact, and he says, "Was Paul crucified for you? Of course he wasn't. Is Christ somehow divided? Can you just carve Jesus up into four different... No!" And then he asks the question, "Were you baptized in Paul's name?" And he's basically saying, "I hardly baptized any of you. Just a couple. Maybe some I forgot, but I hardly baptized any of you, and when I did, I didn't baptize you into my name. This is about Jesus. This isn't about me. It's not about a personality, it's about Jesus." You see, what they are doing here is Paul's trying to refocus their attention on Jesus instead of their attention on earthly leaders, because we as a people just have a tendency to do that. We have a tendency to take our eyes off the one that we need to be on, and we just look to sometimes the earthly leaders. He's not saying, "Hey, dishonor these other men." He's not saying that at all, and Paul would honor those other men for sure, but he's saying, "Don't get your eyes in the wrong place. This is about Jesus." And in fact, he's trying to remind them that what they're doing, they think is actually mature. They think they're being mature. "Well, I follow Paul." "Well, I follow Apollos." They think that they're being mature and Paul's trying to expose their immaturity. This is immature. Do you know that I've actually had this? It's happened to me. Do you know that I've actually had a person, more than one, but one specifically comes to mind, I won't tell you, a man or a woman. Doesn't matter. A person sit down with me and say, tell me I'm their favorite and all those kinds of things, "And if you weren't here, I wouldn't be here." They were trying to say that. I think genuinely in their heart, they were trying to be encouraging and kind and all that stuff, but they were exposing their immaturity. I didn't say that to them. I was loving and gracious. I didn't say that to them, but it just exposed their immaturity. If you think it's encouraging for me to hear, "If you weren't here, I'm gone," all you've done is discourage me because I've recognized that I haven't done a good job of communicating to you what maturity in Jesus actually looks like. Some of you're going, "Huh, huh." Yeah, huh. Because this was the problem here. This was the problem here, people taking their eyes off of Jesus and putting them in places where it would not be ultimately profitable. See, what the church has to do, especially in the United States where we have this propensity for celebrity culture, the church has to push away from celebrity culture. That's not who we are intended to be. It's not who I'm intended to be. There's a reason that I'm not on social media. First of all, I don't wanna see everybody else's idiocy, particularly people that I thought better of and thought that would be more mature. So I don't really wanna see all of that. Secondarily, I don't think it's good for my own soul. I'm not talking about you. I'm not talking about it inherently. I'm not making any judgements. I'm just saying I don't think it's good for my own soul. I don't need the temptation of everybody under the sun wanting to hear from me on everything that exists. I'm not an expert on everything. I'm barely an expert on very few things. But somehow, some way people wanna bring you into that, and then the temptation is that you're somebody, you're something, and you begin to be inflated in the way that you view yourself, and I know that I could be subject to that, and I don't want to be. This is not a good thing. The future of the church in terms of its leadership must be interdependent and multiple and not focused in on singular personalities. That cannot be the future of the church of Jesus Christ. First of all, because that's just biblical. Interdependency and multiplicity is biblical. There are no Moseses on the mountain. That was then. Now we need a multiplicity of leaders who are interdependent in their leadership and can move the people of God toward maturity, not focused on them, but focused on Jesus for the sake of the mission of God. That is ultimately where we need to head. Now, I'm grateful to God for some learning that I had early on coming to The Chapel. I didn't know all of this, like really practically, I kind of knew it somewhat in my head, like I'd read 1 Corinthians before, you know, wasn't brand new to me. But coming into The Chapel, I came here, and this church voted on me as the senior pastor. I was 32 years old. It's interesting, because all the entire leadership staff of this church were all older than me, yet somehow I had the title senior pastor. So weird, right? I was senior of no one, literally no one. But I showed up and I was voted on as the pastor. I mean, like everybody but four people, like the whole church but four people voted for me. I'm still looking for them. And if you know of anything, please. I'm kidding. They actually said some of them they thought were children who had, 'cause it was anonymous, children who had put some stuff in there, whatever, but it doesn't matter. It does matter, actually. It doesn't, it doesn't. It doesn't. I'm over it. So yeah, I mean, it was a really embraced kind of deal. It was awesome, but when I showed up, I didn't show up as the sole leader. I showed up, voted on by the church as the senior pastor. Well, I changed that title as soon as I could, 'cause I was like, "I'm senior to nobody. I'm 32, what do I know?" But I was actually co-pastor with the existing transition pastor at that time, whose name was Pastor Al Cockrell. Here's a picture of the young ones right here, huh? There's young Jerry and young Pastor Al. Pastor Al's with Jesus now, and here we are, right? Young. And so we actually were having to lead together, and people were asking the question like, "How's this gonna work?" 'Cause people like to always start with, "Who's the boss?" But that's usually the worst starting place, particularly when we talk about believers. So Pastor Al and I stood before the congregation back at North Forest, when we were back at 895 North Forest. We stood before the congregation. We said, "Here's how this is gonna work." Pastor Al said, "In every matter related to the future of what we're going to be, I'm going to submit myself to Jerry," and I said, "In every matter related to the present and how we work toward that future, I'm gonna submit myself to Al." And everybody kind of looked at us like, "Huh?" And what people knew right away is, if we don't actually act in submission to one another, it's gonna be ugly. But by God's grace, as imperfectly as that was, by God's grace, we were able to do that, and I learned so much about interdependency in that context. And then shortly thereafter, of course, David Campbell had come to be an executive pastor during that time and was a part of our leadership team and helped us deliver the project here for this building, which I am super, super grateful for his work there, and then following that hired Daryl Largis, and Daryl came about 2005, before we came into this building, actually. It was pretty close to being done, but before we got into this building, we're still at North Forest, and then we moved over here and then Daryl grew in his time here with us. So much so that I could recognize the gifts that he had, and Daryl became co-pastor for mission advancement. What was that? Interdependency, interdependency. And he served faithfully here alongside of me in this context for a number of years, about 11 roughly years until June 2nd, 2016, when he went home to be with the Lord at 49 years old. But we served independently, and so that took some time. He was a dear friend, loved him. But then within a couple of years after that-ish, 2018, '19, I'm having conversations with our Board of Overseers, and I'm saying, you know, "I'm thinking about kind of long-term sustainable leadership structure here." And so we were talking about that, and boards do that. That's kind of what they should do, right? And we're talking about all those things, and then then COVID happens and it's like, okay, now you're just dealing with whatever you're dealing with, right? And so for the next few years, it's been that, but then when I came up for air, we started that conversation again. And back in 2018, I said this to our Board of Overseers. I said, "You know what I think? I think that we don't have, we have a campus pastor at every campus, but this one. We don't have a campus pastor here. We kind of just distributed some of those duties or whatever." And somebody would say, "Well you're the campus pastor here." Actually my responsibility is for the whole. I've got a responsibility in the whole of The Chapel ministries, a responsibility in the region, a responsibility in the nation that's coming out of this church with Christ together and what we're doing, and responsibility in the world where we're being represented. So I've got responsibilities in some different domains as well. And they were like, "That makes good sense. Should we look for someone outside of here?" And I said, "I don't know," and then COVID happened and all that stuff. We came back to that conversation, began to pray, began to talk and said, no, we shouldn't look for somebody outside. We need to look for somebody inside, because this is who we are. This is what God's given us. This is where our DNA is, where our mission is, and all those kinds of things. So what would that look like? And I said, "I think I know what it would look like." So I talked to Jonathan Drake, and said, "I want you to pray about something. I want you to pray about going from Niagara Falls to CrossPoint," and he said, "Okay," so I started to explain that to him. Said, "You're not taking my role. My role's not changing. It's not that. You're not stepping in anybody's shoes, it's not that, but that you could give focused attention to this. So I just want you to pray about it. If you say no, you say no." And I did that knowing, 'cause I know our Niagara Falls folks are watching right now, I did that knowing that it would not, I didn't think it would disadvantage our Niagara Falls campus, because I felt like we already had God's answer there already, named Mark Cushing. So we then followed up with Mark and said, "We want you to pray. Jonathan's praying, we want you to pray. Let's just see what the Lord is going to do." Well, what the Lord did is that they said yes to God's leading, and we were so grateful for that. And so Jonathan said yes. You guys know Jonathan, right? It's Jonathan and family right here. You guys know him, right? He's a child of this place, right? And then Mark Cushing and his family, you know Mark, right? Mark's been here for, I dunno, 15, 17 years, something like that. Canadian, which we love, literally right across the border, but he's right there in the Niagara Falls area, but just right across the border. So occasionally, you know, you'll hear, "Eh?" come out, you know, every now and then, right? It's awesome. Trusted, godly brother in Jesus. Both of them have said yes. So what that means is, is that Mark is going to start, and our Niagara Falls campus already knows this. They talked about it last week. Mark's going to become our campus pastor at our Niagara Falls campus. Jonathan's gonna come over here to our CrossPoint campus to give specific attention to what we're doing at this campus. Now, couple things. First of all, I want to commend our Niagara Falls campus. I'm looking at you right now. Our family, our brothers and sisters in Niagara Falls, do you know how they responded to this? Lovingly, affirming, maturely. Thank you. Thank you. That brings such joy to my heart. Thank you, so gracious. But they also know that they've got God's appointed person for God's appointed time in that space. They love Jonathan, they love Mark, too, and this is a wonderful opportunity for us to interdepend in terms of what we're doing. So what will Jonathan be doing here? Jonathan is going to be giving point leadership here. He's just gonna be giving attention, not the boss of everybody here. He's not that. He's gonna be giving specific attention to the mission that we're on through this campus, the equipping of people through this campus, the care of people through this campus, and also the teaching side. He's going to not only become, he's already a part of the teaching team here, but is gonna continue in that process and helping to build that up for the whole of what we do at The Chapel. So that's what Jonathan's gonna be doing. And you may be asking, "Well, Jerry, what's changing for your role?" Nothing. Nothing. I will just be able now to have some flexibility to be involved in all of the domains that God has asked me to be involved in while still giving oversight and leadership in the context of what we do here. See, the point of all of this, actually, is for sustainable leadership structure that's not circled around one singular personality, but is actually for the best interest of the brothers and sisters and the best interest and maturing of the leaders so that together, we may be forward in the mission of God. Now, Jonathan, you'll get to talk to and welcome and do all that kind of stuff, but it's not going to be until like April. So we're not jumping right away into this. We're transitioning slowly, and that'll be happening somewhere around April. And we're doing this in part because not only has this been something that's been been on my heart and now on our board's heart as well, but it's also been something that Paul is warning us about and reminding us of, that we don't want to be in a position where we are locked around one singular personality. This is good for us all. He doesn't want us caught up in that. And that's why what we have is we have a solution. See, Paul's addressing a problem, but he gives a solution, and what is the solution that he gives? The gospel. That's the solution, is the gospel. Notice what the verse says there at the close of this passage. Paul says, verse 17, "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." Paul was not negating, listen to this, he wasn't devaluing baptism. He was distinguishing it from the preaching of the gospel. He wasn't devaluing it at all. It's very important. But he was distinguishing it, because his mission was to proclaim the gospel, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus for the sinfulness of humanity of what Jesus did on the cross, paying for our sins, satisfying the justice of God, going to the cross on our behalf as the sinless substitute, rising from the grave, conquering sin, hell, and death on our behalf, and now we can be reconciled to the Father. This is the great news, that while we were sinners, Christ still died for us. We can be reconciled to the Father through what Jesus has done. This is the good news. This is the solution that Paul offers. This is what keeps us focused in on the mission. This is the unity that we find ourselves hanging onto, is our unity around the good news of Jesus. The gospel has inherent power all by itself. Paul said, "I'm not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of salvation to everyone who hears and believes, first for the Jew and then for the Gentile." That's why we have to be a people who are proclaimers of the gospel in what we say and in what we do, because this is what ultimately brings the unity of mission, and when we're unified around the gospel as brothers and sisters, we are less prone to divisions and we are more prone to living life on mission. That's why what Paul is saying here in a nutshell is this. Brothers and sisters, don't be divided, 'cause Jesus isn't. Brothers and sisters, don't be divided, because Jesus isn't.