Anyone in marketing or sales knows how these games are played. Products and presentations are sculpted and crafted to tell listeners what they want to hear. Down through the centuries, "to sell" has meant to persuade people to give their loyalty, their attention, or their money. But first you must know what the prospects want to hear. No matter what the truth is, the message must fit their situations. This problem is not unique to the twentieth century. Paul dealt with that same problem.
The large, urban church in Corinth became increasingly sensitive to its position in the philosophical, theological, and economic marketplaces. This congregation wanted to look good, to titillate the ears of listeners, to look attractive to the outside world. In Paul's opinion, the church was drifting away from the essentials, which had brought the church together in the first place. I suspect that if you and I were to visit the Corinthian church about the time Paul wrote this letter, we would not sense these problems right off. We would look at the sizable congregation and think it was an incredible place.
Yet underneath the surface are the murmurings, factions, and divisions that were slowly rising to a boiling point. Not only is this a church fraught with divisions, it is also pockmarked with immorality. No one seems to be seriously concerned. There's a breakdown of discipline. Men and women are permitted to identify with the name of Jesus even though they're not living as Jesus called them to live. Theological heresy marks some people; they espouse alien beliefs, which run counter to the gospel of Christ. To someone who says, "I'd love to go back to the early church," I say, "Be sure ...
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