My Thoughts. . . .
Preachers usually want to work with a perfect church. Members want to belong to one. Both are in the “search” mode which ends in identical results. It is referred to as “failure.” Why? Personal perfection was lost in Genesis 3 and man has failed to regain it!
The Chloe family wrote to Paul about the sinful state the church in Corinth was drowning in. Paul’s corrective letter was lengthy. Their false teaching and practices were multiple. Their attitude toward one another and about Paul were heartbreaking. Surprisingly Paul did not withdraw fellowship from the congregation. They had divided into four different groups, dishonoring him, Cephas, Apollos, and Jesus by naming their divisions after them. Some did not believe Paul was a bonafide apostle. Their assemblies were divisive and confusing. Would the congregation accept the corrections Paul mentioned? Surprisingly he only singled out one member to withdraw from who was doing something that pagans did not practice. The man was living with his father’s wife. They were ignoring the shame this man was bringing upon the body of Christ. So Paul commanded the church to discipline him by withdrawing their fellowship.
It seems incredible that Paul wanted a congregation, with multiple teachings and practices that were sinful, to withdraw from one member when the church itself was plagued with sin! He said nothing about withdrawing from them. Despite their many digressions from the truth, God continued to indwell the membership and gave no hint that he was going to vacate. All the evidence pointed to a continued indwelling due to members retaining the gifts of prophesying, speaking different languages, interpreting, healing, and possessing other miraculous gifts (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 12 & 14). The sins which permeated that congregation were not over night practices. Neither did they correct everything immediately after receiving Paul’s letter. He had to continue warning them in his second epistle.
An invitation to work with the church of God in Corinth would be easy to reject by most preachers today. Today’s congregations would shy away from fellowship rather than building a close relationship with them. Few would point to them as an example of faithfulness or soundness. Christians moving to Corinth would be warned and encouraged to not identify with them. Preachers knew their reputations would be shredded if they even suggested having fellowship with Corinth. Yet, God continued His indwelling.
Is that indwelling by God not unusual, if not contradictory? He even inspired Paul to refer to them as “the church of God” and “the body of Christ.” If one decided to withdrew from Corinth, but God did not, would that not make his congregation guilty of also withdrawing from God? The two letters by Paul to Corinth have a tendency to put the reader on a biblical merry-go-round! Would the reason for that ride be due to our view on disfellowshiping being false?