A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 3
Big Idea: To follow blindly any one church leader is a sign of immaturity. All true leaders work together to serve God’s purpose of making disciples of Jesus, for Jesus.
What would you do for your idol? One fan tattooed his body in 15 places with Miley Cyrus’ name or image. Another legally changed her name to Mrs. Kanye West. A third intentionally broke her leg so that she’d look like Jessie J. (The singer had accidentally broken her leg at the time).1 Fans also berate others – on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram – when something bad is said about their idol.
Diehard fans do these things to show their devotion to the celebrities they love. But fans don’t stay fans forever. ‘Beliebers’ and ‘Swifties’ will one day move on from Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. Tears will dry. Facebook will ‘unlike.’ Twitter will quiet. That’s the nature of fandom. All rabid fans will grow up one day and leave their teenage infatuations behind.
This is what Paul wanted the Corinthians to see. To act like a fan is to think like a kid.
The loyal devotion they had for certain leaders – Paul, Apollos or Cephas (3:22) – was not a sign of spiritual maturity at all. (Paul calls them “mere infants” in 3:1.) Corinthian Christians squabbling among themselves (3:3-4) – about whose preacher was the best (3:21) – are indistinguishable from the teen celebrity fans of today, trolling each other on social media.
Truly grown-up believers don’t do that. No matter how eloquent or erudite a preacher is, all serve the same Master with one purpose – to make disciples of Jesus, for Jesus. And this one purpose requires many hands to make it happen. No one leader can do it alone. All play a particular part. All also depend on God for the end result. As Paul says (3:6-9):
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour. For we are co-workers in God’s service, you are God’s field.
Whether it’s a farm (3:6-9), building (3:10-15), or temple (3:16-17), Paul’s main point is the same. Christianity is a team sport. No one plays solo. What counts is how the team – as a whole – did. If the team wins, everyone in the same team is a winner. If the team loses, everyone in the same team is a loser – no matter how impressive a star member’s individual contribution had been.
So everyone – leaders and members – must think of their roles in relation to the team. Having a star player is good. A few star players, even better. But don’t take sides, admiring them as spectators. We too are in the same team. Everyone needs to be on the field ready to play, listening to the Owner-Manager’s words. Anything else is child’s play.
The heart of the matter:
Worldly people act like childish fans, blindly devoted to their fallible idols.
Gospel people understand all leaders are human, bit players in God’s grand plan.
1 See ‘10 Craziest Things that Fans Did for Their Idols.’
Questions for personal reflection or group discussion:
1. Have you ever felt (or seen others experience) intense admiration towards a particular pastor or preacher? What was it about the pastor that caused you or others to become such loyal fans?
2. What were or could be the consequences of such ‘fandom’ in the church?
3. Paul said such adoration should be greatly discouraged. How can you manage yourself from putting your church’s preachers, pastors, elders, worship leaders, singers, etc, on pedestals?