Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas 
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(Sermon series beginning June 26)
Hillcrest Baptist Church

Colleagues or Competitors?
by Tom Goodman
July 6, 2011

Imagine watching your house burn to the ground while competing firefighting crews argued about who should put it out.

You can probably guess this article isn't really about firefighters, but stick with me.

There was no central city fire department in Philadelphia in the early 1800's.  Independent fire brigades competed ferociously to be the first to a fire.  The team that responded the fastest and put out the fire was the only one who received payment.

Competition was so intense that the different brigades would often sabotage one another and even go so far as to hide fire hydrants.  All this while lives and property were at stake.

This situation continued until 1817, when the fire brigades themselves realized that the bedlam and chaos couldn't continue.  They united to form the Fire Association of Philadelphia.

As I said, this article isn't really about firefighters.  It's about changing lives with unchanging truth.

In our summertime series through the book of Acts, we're discovering that's our job as the people of God.  And as we work to change lives with unchanging truth, it's good to know we're not on our own.  We have colleagues.

The problem is, too often we see competitors where we should be seeing colleagues.  In Acts 18, we're introduced to a remarkable Jewish Christian worker named Apollos.  He was educated, eloquent, passionate; and Luke said he "greatly helped" the new Corinthian believers in their faith.  But in 1 Corinthians 1-3, we see that the church in Corinth aligned themselves into competing factions.

Or, let's call them competing fire brigades.

One faction was captured by this eloquent newcomer, Apollos.  Another faction circled the wagons around their founder, Paul.

Neither Paul nor Apollos were at all happy with this.  No worthy Christian worker would be.  Apollos was reluctant to make a return visit (1 Corinthians 16:12), and Paul had to reprimand the church:  "What, after all, is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  Only servants.... I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow" (3:5-9).

To impact Austin we'll need the work of others.  Other churches aren't our competitors in market share, but colleagues.  Other generations at Hillcrest are not our competitors in vision-casting, but colleagues.  Other age-graded programs are not our competitors for budget monies, but colleagues.

Join us @ 10 this Sunday and let's learn from Paul and Apollos how to work together to change lives with unchanging truth!


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