I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 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.”
Was Paul saying that Christians should always agree on everything? On the face of it this would seem to be the case. But it does not fit with what he taught elsewhere. There are such things as disputable matters – non-essentials where we need to be charitable towards one another.
No, the problem in Corinth was that what we might call ‘personality cults’ had arisen around certain leaders. People were dividing over their favourite leaders. (There is no indication that any of those mentioned here were trying to build their own following. This was what people were doing to them).
Sadly, this problem has not gone away. Still, today, some Christians establish ‘fan clubs’; and no doubt there are some church leaders who build them. This is not good, it is not right, it is not healthy. In recent years so many high profile leaders have dramatically fallen from their pedestals. Of course you don’t have to be well known to have your ‘Humpty Dumpty’ moment. But there is often unbearable pressure brought to bear on famous Christian leaders.
In a little while Paul is going to put things into perspective, reminding the Corinthians that even their greatest leaders are “only servants” through whom they came to believe. It is God alone who gives the growth.
Celebrity Christianity is a contradiction in terms. Let us shun every manifestation of superstar church leadership.
Prayer: Lord God, we pray for our leaders to see themselves through your eyes, so that they may not become discouraged, nor overly puffed-up with pride. Let them walk humbly with their God.