Summary: Sometimes, we get too tied up with thinking that the Pastor is our leader and our guide. The truth is, Christ is the true leader of the church!
1 Corinthians 1:10-18 (p 1772)
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanus; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.
“Who Leads the Church?”
If you measure him by his church size, you would count him as a very successful pastor. He is the pastor of the largest and fastest growing church in the U.S. with more the 40,000 members in weekly attendance. His televised broadcast reaches millions across the world every single week. He boasts a church budget of over 40 million dollars every single year. If you measure him by all of this… he is successful indeed.
If you measure him by credentials, you would count him as a very successful pastor. Every book he has written has soared to the top of the best-sellers list. He is constantly on talk shows and doing interviews. He was voted “Most Influential Christian in America” in 2006 by The Church Report. If you measure him by all of this… he is successful indeed.
If you measure him by popular appeal, you would count him as a very successful pastor. His personality is outstanding. He literally oozes charisma. People come from miles around to hear him preach, and they’re willing to show up hours early to get the best seats in the house. He has also been called “America’s favorite pastor.” . If you measure him by all of this… he is successful indeed.
But his message… well… that is another story. His message is not necessarily a bad one… but it really isn’t a good one either. It is a message of prosperity and goodness. His message is God wants to bless you. “God is a loving, forgiving God who will reward you with health, wealth, and happiness.” I particularly like the one sermon when he told us “God wants you to have a bigger TV!” I could get behind that.
He loves the bible texts that show what a loving God we have… however he avoids all the bible texts that are difficult, hard, or show any signs of struggle within the text. He is the first to admit that he doesn’t have any biblical or theological training… and likens himself to more of a life coach than a theologian. His narthex… or stage as he calls it… does not have a pulpit… it has a podium. There is not a single Cross anywhere to be found within the church… it has a spinning globe instead. When he is asked about sin and our need for Jesus… he goes back to our need for God, and that his message is one of hope… and that he doesn’t want to beat people down with talk about sin or depravity.
And so his church grows and grows, as he continues to preach the message that God wants us all to drive Ferraris… and completely leaves out the message of Jesus Christ. If you measure him by all of this… do you still consider him a success?
Our scripture text today is dealing with a lot of the same issues. It comes from Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church. As you may remember from sermons past… Corinth was the equivalent of our modern day Las Vegas. What happens in Corinth… stays in Corinth. Well… the church in Corinth was fighting over which leader would be the best… most charismatic… most dynamic… most church growing leader they could follow. Basically, they were looking for a leader much like we just heard about… they were looking for “The Most Influential Christian in Rome Year 55.”
Lets review what Paul wrote in verse 11:
“My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”