Here’s something I don’t approve of one bit. When you get together you don’t share. When you go to church, I hear, some of you won’t even talk to others of you. I can’t say I’m surprised to hear it. You seem to be more concerned with posturing than being authentic. So you’re really only pretending to be a church. Each of you does your own thing without any consideration for anyone else. Take care of your own business at home, and stop insulting God and humiliating everyone else at church. What am I supposed to say about that kind of behavior? That it’s good? Hell no, it’s not good.
The Corinthian church was an utterly dysfunctional institution. Chances are, if you’ve been involved in a dysfunctional church you can identify first hand things in common. But human as churches are, you can find the same patterns in just about any dysfunctional institution.
The bottom line is that no institution can accomplish what it is supposed to (doesn’t matter what the stated purpose is or if it’s a church, a Rotary club, a teachers’ union, a fortune 500 company, or even a nation) so long as the people in it are more concerned with their own personal agenda than they are with the greater good the institution is supposed to achieve.
But Paul’s suggestion, implicit in his scolding, is that the way forward depends on individuals (and not necessarily the formal leaders, either) taking responsibility for
- being authentic – which means at least in part, being up front with yourself and others about who you really are and what you’re real interest in the greater good is, and
- being aware of the needs of people other than themselves – whether they are on your side in the institution’s politics or not.
It’s not too big a leap to imagine that authentic and aware institutions and organizations, the ones that are really making a positive impact on the world around them, are made up of authentic and aware individuals.
And it’s also not too hard to guess that being a part of an authentic, aware, and meaningful community is only really possible to the degree that one is aware of one’s own authenticity in relation to others. It’s self-selecting. And it starts with you.
So, the way forward: know thyself and give a damn about someone nearby.