Who Do You Follow?
1 Corinthians 1:11-13
A few years ago, there was a Christian worship band who made a public statement that they believed in creational evolution, just another belief system that can be corrected by taking the Bible literally but keeping it in the context of the whole Bible. But what I want to focus on is not that comment, but the comment he made to defend himself in response to the outrage of the Christian community. In one of his statements defending his point of view, he stated that there is no difference if you say you follow John Calvin and I follow C.S. Lewis. That is wherein the problem lies. Let’s look at today’s text, 1 Corinthians 1:11-13 says, “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.’ 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” You could take this passage and change the names. Verse 12 could say, “What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I follow John Calvin’; another, ‘I follow C. H. Spurgeon’; another, ‘I follow Christ’.” Friends we need to stop following men and women and take the mindset of Paul when he said, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2.
I get it, it is easier to let some pastor or theologian tell you what to think, but that is not what God has told us to do. He told us, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15. Please don’t get me wrong; I am not saying to stop listening to your pastor, there are several pastors I listen to regularly. What I am saying is, when you listen to a pastor, you need to keep in mind that he is just a man and as such could be wrong. It is your responsibility to go home and study what he just said. In the end, God will hold pastors accountable for what they teach, but He will hold you accountable for what you do with it.
So, what exactly is the pastor’s job? What does the Bible tell us we are supposed to be doing? In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul is talking about unity of the Body of Christ. Starting in verse 11 he says, “11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” In my book, Cathedral Made of People, I dedicated an entire chapter to this one passage, but to sum it up, if you are a pastor, you are the trainer for a bodybuilder. You have the best equipment available, so you need to train your bodybuilders to use the equipment for themselves. If you use it for them, what benefit will they get out of it? Years ago, I attended a family member’s church where the pastor told them that they couldn’t understand the Bible for themselves, so he would tell them what it is saying. This is exactly what the Catholic church did in the middle ages. The Bible was only available in Latin, so they would tell the church what they wanted them to believe. Not to worry, this family member is no longer in that church and, not surprisingly, that “pastor” now has a compound where he lives with his 10 or 12 remaining members.
So, if we pastors are doing our job and teaching our local gathering how to be that “workman who does not need to be ashamed” and how to “accurately handle the word of truth,” then our people can do the work themselves of studying the Bible literally and in the context of the entire Bible. But, a note to pastors, keep it literal. Your people don’t need to hear what you believe it is saying; they need to know what it says. I used to enjoy listening to this one Christian speaker. She was a good speaker and was usually on track with the Bible. Then one day as I was listening to her, she read a passage of scripture and said, “what I think this is saying,” then went about taking it completely out of context to prove a point. To me, it didn’t matter if her point was valid or not, I said out loud, “I don’t care what you think it says,” and changed the channel. I’m sure the other people in the gym thought I was crazy, but it infuriated me that she would manipulate scripture simply to prove a point.
What it comes down to is that we need to stop saying, “I’m of John Calvin” and “I’m of C. H. Spurgeon” and “I’m of C. S. Lewis.” Again, listen to your pastor, then do the work. If you think something he said doesn’t align with Scripture, then go to him, no one else, and talk to him about it. And, pastors, that means, when they come to you, you need to take it seriously, one person in this scenario is wrong, and it could be you. So, when this happens, pastors should set aside time to sit down with this person and study the Bible together to see what it is truly saying. Then, if you were wrong, you need to take that to the church and let them know. As I said earlier, God does hold us pastors accountable for what we preach, so we must make sure we got it right.