This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.
By nature, most people are followers. Even those in various leadership positions typically have someone else who they follow. As such, we tend to gravitate toward our favorite personalities–those men or women who have had a positive influence on our lives, who possess wisdom, and who shares that wisdom in a way that encourages us to follow.
The problem, however, is when we elevate one leader over another in order to elevate ourselves.
Paul wrote to the church at Corinth and chastised them for divisions that stemmed from preferences for different leaders. We read:
For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by members of Chloe’s people that there is rivalry among you. What I am saying is this: One of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” Or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul’s name? – 1 Corinthians 1:11-13 (CSB)
Paul, Apollos, and Peter (Cephas) were all men who loved Jesus and had a great impact on the early church. Paul was a missionary who worked to found the church. Apollos was an excellent speaker who came later and edified the church. Peter was the original leader among the Apostles.
Each contributed much to the life of the early church (and through Scripture to our churches as well). Be it because of personality, tone, style, or location, different groups in Corinth began to elevate one leader over the other and used this as a source of pride against their fellow church members. Then some would respond by saying, “Those human leaders are good for you, but we follow Jesus.” Given the tone of Paul’s remarks, this wasn’t an act of humility encouraging others to grow deeper in Christ, but rather an act of self-righteousness and seeming spiritual superiority.
Paul rebuked the church by saying, “Enough!” Jesus is the true Leader, the rest are just servants who point to him. (Paul continued with and expanded on this thought in 3:5-9 where he calls Apollos and himself “servants”–one who planted and one who watered, while God gave growth.)
We need to remember this today. We might have our favorite pastors, authors, or mentors. We might belong to different church denominations.
But there is only one Jesus, the Leader of leaders, our King.