Our minds are conditioned and trained by the world to do it. The evil one loves it when we do it. Sports plays a huge part in fostering it. It is called the pedestal problem. We crave to be near someone who achieves more than we think we can, one who fulfills all our worldly dreams of success, one who is articulate, charismatic, and popular. When we think we have found that person, we put them on a pedestal. We begin to think they are perfect and can do no wrong. We boast about them. We defend them.
We do this to our church leaders and our pastors. We hear a good sermon that touches our hearts and think what a great speaker he is! When he speaks consistently well, we think he can do not wrong and follow him like a puppy follows his master. Then the inevitable happens, the pedestal tips and tosses the imperfect person tumbling. We jump into conversations that tell of his/her fall, gossip about their setback or demise and crucify the fallen from the pedestal we erected. Sound harsh? Maybe, but I’ve seen it happen many times.
Paul is frustrated with the immaturity of new believers in Corinth who have put Paul and his coworker in God’s Kingdom work, Apollos, on pedestal positions of comparison. They have also fallen prey to “greatness by association” self-promotion with these leaders. Paul explains how childish it is to put anyone on a pedestal of praise while ignoring the One and Only who is worthy of ALL our praise and worship. This is sinful to God and very unfair to servants of God who are led by God to lead us to Jesus’ saving grace. We do this to our pastors and leaders is subtle and unsubtle ways. Paul lets the church know quickly how wrong this behavior is.
CORINTHIANS—CALLED AND SENT
1 Corinthians 3, The Message
1-4 But for right now, friends, I’m completely frustrated by your unspiritual dealings with each other and with God. You’re acting like infants in relation to Christ, capable of nothing much more than nursing at the breast. Well, then, I’ll nurse you since you don’t seem capable of anything more. As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything’s going your way? When one of you says, “I’m on Paul’s side,” and another says, “I’m for Apollos,” aren’t you being totally childish?
5-9 Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working.
9-15 Or, to put it another way, you are God’s house. Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive—but just barely.
16-17 You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.
18-20 Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being relevant. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It’s written in Scripture,
He exposes the hype of the hipsters.
The Master sees through the smoke screens
of the know-it-alls.
21-23 I don’t want to hear any of you bragging about yourself or anyone else. Everything is already yours as a gift—Paul, Apollos, Peter, the world, life, death, the present, the future—all of it is yours, and you are privileged to be in union with Christ, who is in union with God.
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
- Leaders are servants of God. Only God is to be worshiped. Only. God.
- There is only one foundation upon whom we build our lives—Jesus Christ.
- Leaders are imperfect, led by God’s Holy Spirit, always growing, called and sent by God to follow Jesus while helping others find and follow Him, too.
- We are all saved by grace, redeemed to grow to be more and more like our Master, Jesus. We are all called to help people find and follow Jesus, too.
- We invite people, like ourselves, to accept Jesus as Savior and point them to Jesus as Lord of their lives.
- God changes lives. God causes us to grow. This is His work in each of us.
- In obedience to God, we provide the environment where God can do His best work in all of us.
- God has gifted all of us with abilities to help with specific tasks in His Kingdom work.
- Our bodies are temples where God resides to all who invite Him in. We take care of the “house” where God lives.
- God is wisdom. Seek God and ask for wisdom, “skills for living”, for this life. He will provide all we need when we ask.
- We have nothing or anyone to boast about, only Christ, who saved us from all our sins. No man/woman can do what Jesus has done for us. Complete redeeming, reconciling forgiveness is freely given by God because what Jesus Christ did on the cross.
- There is no greater love than the love God has for those who believe in His Son.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. May our only boast be always about You and what you have done for all who believe.
In Jesus Name, Amen