1 Corinthians 9:10-13 (New Living Translation)
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.” Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not!
When Moses received the Ten Commandments from God, those foundational decrees opened with: “You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea” (Exodus 20:3-5).
God knew that the Israelites would be surrounded by people who worshipped gods they had made with their own hands out of wood, gold, silver, jewel, precious metals. From the earliest days recorded in the Bible, people struggled with what it means to worship this God of the Israelites who could not be represented by something physical.
It is so interesting to me that this same tendency continued among the early Christians. In today’s reading, Paul was writing to the church he loved so much in Corinth, urging them to recall that they had committed to following Jesus Christ — not to following one of the human beings who had introduced them to Christ.
Still today we sometimes yearn to follow something tangible — perhaps because what is tangible is controllable. Or perhaps even because an imperfect human being is easier to dismiss or discount than a divine Savior.
It’s understandable, isn’t it? After all, it’s completely natural for us to attach to a person who has helped us to grow in our relationship with God. But, in the end, it must be about God, and no other. One of the many things I love about the apostle Paul is that he immediately stepped in to address this situation, lovingly reminding the people of Corinth that their freedom, forgiveness, and redemption came through Jesus. Anyone else involved was nothing more than a conduit of God’s love.
How have you been a conduit of God’s love to someone this week?