These are great words from a commentary-like book Eugene Peterson wrote on Ephesians, Practice Resurrection.
“In Thessalonica, some members of the church were so sure that the Lord was returning any day that they quit working. They sat around speculating what kind of cloud would provide the chariot for Jesus’ arrival and letting their less spiritual brothers and sisters provide them with meals. The Corinthians were a fractious crew, arguing and squabbling over various items of behavior having to do with diet and sex and worship. The Christians in Colossae were muddled in their esoteric thinking about Christ and needed straightening out. The Galatian Christians were regressing into some tired old legalisms and needed a thorough shaking up. The Romans, a mixed congregation of Jews and Gentiles, were having a hard time finding a common base in Christ. Philemon, one of the leaders in the Colossian church, had a runaway slave returned to him and required some firm counsel from Paul in how to treat him. Timothy and Titus were responsible for leading less than ideal churches and needed Paul’s specific instruction and encouragement.”
“Sometimes we hear our friends talk in moony, romantic terms of the early church. ‘We need to get back to being just like the early church.’ Heaven help us. These churches were a mess, and Paul wrote his letters to them to try to clean up the mess.”
rev shane lems