When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world? After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.1 Corinthians 3:4-9
Verse 4 contains the third use of the word σαρκικός – fleshlyness – translated here acting like people of the world. Paul goes on to talk of the divisive spirit among them. It is this that demonstrates their flesh. This is the continuation of Paul’s comments about them being babies in Christ as long as they manifest this kind of spirit. All the petty jealousies and factionalism comes to the fore when we are divided according to who brought us to Christ. The depth of factionalism must have been severe among the Corinthians. It is believable if they were divided by doctrine or the denominational spirit; that is normal and somewhat understandable. But these Corinthians had managed to set divisions according to who brought them to Christ, who had baptised them, who was the one who they were being mentored by “in Christ”. Whereas “in Christ” there should be no divisions. We are all one in Him. Yet the Corinthians had made a big deal of who they were following.
Paul uses two illustrations here – the first is based on farming practise of planting crops and watering them. Who planted the seed, who watered it, who tendered and nurtured it is irrelevant. We are all one and working to the same end. There is no person on this earth who has had only one influence on their life as a Christian; only one person who has mentored them or brought them to Christ. It takes a team. So Paul makes the point that it is God working in it all.
When we get caught up in “the cult of the personality” then we show we are babies in the Lord. No one person is important in this process. The big named preacher who “brought you to the Lord” is not more or less important than the one who discipled you afterward. Nor is the one who prepared you for baptism behind the scenes any less than the one who actually baptised you on the day. We are all one. Yet so often we have a tendency to want the “named person”, the pastor, the visiting speaker to be the one to pray for us. In reality God uses all to the same degree. The sooner we realise that the sooner we will leave behind the partisan spirit.
Little souls need big titles. Big souls need no titles.Rick Warren
The loudest noise in the world is the sound of people whining. Don’t add to it.Adrian Savage