Paul begins his address of the central issue in our reading today; division in the body. This division was founded on who the “teacher” was that each group was following.
It is interesting to see divisions cropping up so soon in the church. It has been roughly 20 years since Jesus’ death yet “cliques” are already developing. This was something that the apostles all tried to prevent. They had a head council in Jerusalem that doctrinal issues were brought to and decided as a group. One example of this was when we saw this played out in Acts concerning circumcision of the Gentiles. The decision was made and discriminated throughout all the churches.
But doctrinal discrepancies didn’t appear to be this group’s issue. Instead their division was based on leader preferences. Paul’s description of the problem makes me think of “idol worship.” Not idol as in a statue but an idol as in a person you place higher than all others. Maybe “hero worship” would be a more appropriate term in this instance. Whichever term you choose to use the second word in there is the biggest problem; worship.
Rather than focusing on the message being delivered by each of those ministering to this group of people, they focused on the deliverer himself. They valued one man higher than the other. They sought out opportunities to associate and align themselves with one teacher over another. They were devoted to the teacher not the teaching. They were so pro their chosen teacher that they broke fellowship with those who didn’t value their teacher as the premier authority. That was the boundary lines in their divisions.
I’m certain that the other teachers, if they were following Jesus, were just as appalled as Paul was at hearing this. Each of these men had come to point people to Jesus, not to themselves. The true follower of Christ never wanted to become the object of worship. Paul intends to put a stop to this right away. I wonder how Jesus felt at this point in time.
Paul calls his audience to reunite under Jesus and to leave all other division out of the body. The teacher is not the one who saves. The teacher has no power apart from Jesus. And the teacher is a man just as fallible as any other person. As I’ve heard it put, “It’s one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” Keep your eyes on Jesus. Any teacher who doesn’t direct your focus back to Jesus is NOT one to be following.
Father God, thank You for the many teachers/ministers in my life who directed my attention back to You. Thank You for redirecting me when I tried to place others between us through my “worship.” Thank You for Your grace that covers my sin and Your forgiveness that washes me clean again. Help me always keep You the “main thing” in everything I do. Please redirect ANY misplaced attention I garner through this blog. I want to give ALL praise and worship to You alone.