The staggering scandals among Christian leaders have devastated scores of believers and their families. Celebrity preachers/teachers, “Camp loyalty”, and institutional allegiance hold a Mecca-like grip over multitudes. Superficial spirituality tends to identify with men, movements, and monuments instead of identifying with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
Corinth was rife with man-centered devotion. Some followed Paul while others adhered to Apollos. These good men were not “the end,” but merely channels pointing others to God Himself. The Holy Scripture indicted these “man followers” at Corinth for being carnal and spiritually immature.
As George Whitfield stated, “The best of men are men at best.” NO ONE is totally consistent, except the Lord Jesus Christ! Even the most gifted and godly men possess the potential for massive failure. No man is infallible. While it is impossible to expect too much from a perfect God, we should not expect perfection from frail creatures like ourselves.
“When the worship of God is not central, the church will become a personality cult,” said one of the reformers. Hindus follow their gurus, but God’s children should be following Christ. Unhealthy leaders nurture dependency and cult-like allegiance to themselves. Healthy leaders always point their people toward the chief Shepherd. True under-shepherds never use guilt, shame, threats, and manipulative tactics to keep the sheep in check. The Bible clearly instructs us to revere the office of pastor and highly respect them, but biblical submission never demands blind loyalty to abusive egotists. Jesus clearly warned about ravening wolves dressed up in sheepish attire (Mat. 7:15). False prophets are discerned from the fruit they produce.
Listen to these strong inspired Words: “Whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed…” (1 Cor. 3:3-5). It is absolutely right to highly esteem and appreciate those who minister to us. But it is absolutely wrong to put fellow mortals on the pedestal that belongs only to Deity. We don’t connect with God through gurus or surrogates—we relate to God through His Son.
Thank God for pastors, preachers, and teachers who feed and lead us. Respect and submit to their leadership within the bounds of Scripture. But the preeminence always belongs to Christ (Col. 1:18). In conclusion, Paul and Apollos are wonderful—but ALL THE PRAISE MUST GO TO JESUS!
March 21, 2014