“What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:5-7, ESV)
We’ve been studying 1 Corinthians in the high school Bible class that I teach. Today we discussed how the Corinthian Christians were dividing into factions based on their preference for a particular pastor or teacher. As we looked at the verses I’ve quoted above, the following illustration came to mind:
The Dallas Cowboys’ Tony Romo threw three touchdown passes and no interceptions to beat the Seattle Seahawks 38 to 17 on Sunday. How silly would it sound for the fans to say, “Wow! That football was awesome! What an amazing piece of pigskin! Did you see how it got into the end zone? Did you see how it flew through the air and skillfully avoided being intercepted? Let’s put that football in a glass case and give it a spot in the ring of honor!”
Of course it’s silly. The football is nothing but an instrument in the hands of a skilled quarterback. The quarterback did the work and the football, submissive to the quarterback’s will, gets caught up in a moment of glory. So, the football is nothing, but the quarterback who made the pass is the one who deserves the glory.
Sometimes in the Kingdom we give too much credit to God’s instruments and not enough to the God who uses them. We give them celebrity status as if they have done all the work. We fight with one another over which instrument of God is better than the other. (Hint: it’s usually the instrument that I happen to follow.) It’s akin to starting a fan club for the football and ignoring the football player.
Now, it is true that some footballs get put in glass cases and are given places of honor in the homes of the player who used them to execute glorious plays in big games. But it’s the player that used the ball that gets to choose which ones he will honor.
Similarly, some football fans will give a ball a place of honor in their home. However, it’s not the ball that they revere but the player. They honor what the player has done with that ball or they honor the player’s name written on the ball.
As we look at the church in America today, it’s clear that many of us have given way too much glory to footballs. No matter what size the church, God’s people are prone to divide over which church leader they follow. We are far too likely to love our leaders more than our Lord. (And we church leaders encourage it.)
It’s as absurd as having a ticker tape victory parade for a piece of leather.
Just a thought.