For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.”
One of the reasons for division has always been the cult of the personality. Powerful and persuasive individuals have often commanded a following. There have been a variety of reasons for that, ranging from style of leading and preaching to the music they choose, and from thoughtful pastoral care to dynamic social involvement. However, behind all these reasons also lies the selfish desire to belong to a congregation where we feel comfortable and that suits our individual taste.
In a bygone age you could only attend a church within walking distance or, if you were wealthy enough, a horse ride away. As a result you learned to love and welcome all the folk who lived in the locality, regardless. The train and motor car changed all that! We are masters in the marketplace of Church choice – travelling distance no object really, I can go where I want.
We periodically think of damaging the environment by excessive fuel consumption in travelling, but some severely damage the local Christian environment by ignoring their local sisters and brothers. I lived for some years in a wealthy area of Buckinghamshire and it was disheartening to see some of the local Christians hop on the train on Sunday morning to visit a London city church, or drive the 20 miles to join a congregation that ‘suited them’. The existence and witness of a local, united congregation speaks volumes about the love and grace to be found in Christ.
Perhaps something can be said for a Parish structure after all!