Today’s Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:5-23
We can fall into the same thinking that trapped the Corinthians. When we discover a preacher, teacher, or leader whom we respect, we develop loyalties to him, to his thinking, and to his way of doing things. While it is true that we can and do benefit from the preaching of God’s gifted preachers, we need to be very careful not to develop unhealthy loyalties to our leaders and partisan attitudes against one another. Many problems in our modern church develop over egos and personalities in the church.
The Corinthians displayed their immaturity by forming loyalties to human leaders in the church. Paul rejected this practice by reminding them of the true nature of the church and church leadership.
in today’s lesson we are warned against a wrong view of the ministry, particularly of church leadership. 1. Leaders Are Merely Servants (3:5-9); 2. The Church Must Be Built with Care (3:10-15) and 3. The Church Is God’s Temple (3:16-17).
Paul began his discussion of church leadership by asserting that both Apollos and he were servants. The Greek word that Paul used here for servants is diakonos. It is the same word from which we get the word “deacon.” A servant in the culture at that time was a little higher than a slave, but he was still a servant. The modern equivalent is something like a waiter at a restaurant.
Imagine that you and another person went to a very nice restaurant for dinner. Each of you has been to this restaurant several times over the years. And over the course of time you have each come to like a particular waiter. You like James and your friend likes Sam. When you arrive at the restaurant you end up fighting over which waiter to have serves you. Well, of course, this is absurd because James and Sam are only the waiters. The restaurant belongs to Mr. Smith. James and Sam are each doing a good job, but they are doing exactly what Mr. Smith wants them to do.
This is what was going on at Corinth. The Christians were fighting over who was the greatest preacher. So, Paul emphatically cleared up the issue for them. He said that he and Apollos were nothing more than servants through whom the Christians in Corinth believed. As servants of Jesus Christ, the owner of the church, they were simply carrying out their responsibilities as the Lord assigned to each.
Paul is reminding the Christians at Corinth—and us—that Jesus Christ is the true Lord of the Church. To exalt servants rather than the Lord would be absurd.