But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:1 ESV
MEDITATE AND DIGEST: KINDNESS – ARE YOU A CARNAL CHRISTIAN?
If you think you are world’s away from being a baby Christian, think again. Let’s take a humble look at the context of Paul’s words here. In them, we will find that we are all far too close to this category.
These Christians of the “flesh” were divided, boasting in who they followed. Verse three says, “For while one said, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal?” Fast forward 2000 years and we hear the same conversations:
“I am Methodist.” (I follow Charles Wesley.) “I am Catholic.” (I follow Cephas, aka. Peter.) “I am Protestant.” (I follow Martin Luther or Paul.)
These are all wonderful men of God, but – as Paul reminds us in this chapter – they are merely servants of God building on the foundation of Christ. We have made the mistake as a Church of elevating the servants over the Teacher at times and we are suffering for it. Jesus is the One we are following, not a denomination or group.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t ever correct and rebuke each other. We need each other! Apollos was fervently teaching about Jesus with accuracy, but there was more to it that would help him teach the ways of God with further precision (Acts 18:25-26). He received the instructions with gratitude and humility. There were others who were just flat out teaching another Gospel and the believers were warned not to follow them (Galatians). It is wisdom to measure what you are hearing with the Word of Christ.
As we near the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we have much to be grateful to God for. Let’s celebrate the work that He gives to each of us and praise Him for growth! It is not “us” over or against “them”. It is us, period. Let’s choose to work together in Christ, praying for and teaching each other with all the wisdom, patience, and power God gives us as we boldly preach Christ crucified.
Each person’s work will be laid bare before everyone on the Day of Judgment, so work hard to be found innocent of tearing down the temple of God – the Church as a group and individually. Oh Father, help us! … and forgive us. Amen.
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment… For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:10, 18 ESV)
I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. (1 Corinthians 4:6 ESV)
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(Featured image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)