The Turf Curse
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Ahhh, Nantucket! My wife and I had some wonderful, romantic times on that picturesque little island. It's 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The little village of Nantucket is just full of colonial charm and quaint shops and cobblestone streets. And everywhere you look you find reminders of its glory days of whaling history. I was surprised to learn, though, that during those glory days most of the town actually burned to the ground, right up to the docks. It was a tragedy that nearly put Nantucket out of business. But it was a tragedy that never had to happen. It was an ugly, four-letter word that ultimately destroyed Nantucket, and the word was not fire. It's a word that's still destroying things.
Turf. Yep, that's what destroyed Nantucket Village years ago. See, when the fire companies arrived at the site of the blaze that day, the fire was still small. But the firefighters got into an argument over who got to use the fire hydrants. They all wanted to be the heroes. And while they were fighting over turf, literally, the fire spread and they lost the town. That's hard to believe isn't it? But true. Or is it that hard to believe? Losing the town while the rescuers fight over turf...it's still happening today, and it's not a new problem.
It's talked about in our word for today from the Word of God 1 Corinthians 1:10-13. "I appeal to you, brothers," Paul said," in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some of Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you." Sadly, this tendency for God's people to fragment into camps and different groups, to focus on their differences, to get entangled in quarrels, has infected Christ's church for two thousand years.
And we tend to operate as if only our group, our leader is right. Paul said here, "One of you says, 'I follow Paul'; another, 'I follow Apollos'; another, 'I follow Cephas"; and still another, 'I follow Christ' (That was the spiritual group). Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?" The apostle seems to be saying, "Folks, can't you see? It's all about Jesus! This turf thing is tearing His Body apart!"
It was this turf pride that allowed a fire to destroy Nantucket Village while the rescuers argued with each other. Well, today our world is burning down. Lost people are farther from Christ than ever, but we have more means of rescuing them than ever before! So where are the spiritual firefighters? They're fighting over turf.
We are so concerned about our organization, our denomination, our budget, our church, our group's doctrinal distinctives, the agenda of our group, getting the credit so we can get the glory, or maybe the donations, loyalty to human leaders rather than to the Lord who raised up those leaders. And meanwhile, a lost world is burning down around us. This has to break the heart of God.
There's probably 90 percent Bible-based Christians agree on, maybe ten percent we disagree on. Why must we spend 90 percent of our energy on the ten percent we disagree on? That's what makes us "us." We're surrounded by a life-or-death situation! And like the people at Ground Zero when the towers came down, we need to pull together for a desperate rescue operation! Turf doesn't matter when people are dying!
It's time to unite our resources to defeat a militant and united enemy; to get the attention of neighbors who know nothing about the cross, replacing "My kingdom come" with "Thy kingdom come!"
There's no stopping God's people when they're united; there's no stomaching God's people when they're divided into hundreds of little personal kingdoms. The town's on fire, folks! The firemen have to work together!
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