(1 Corinthians 3:1-4)
The aim and the focus of the walk we take with and in Jesus Christ is to become mature. It is the will of God that His people are mature and strong in the gospel, fully able to walk in the ways of God in this world.
The end game for this walk is that we are perfect for we MUST be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect if we are to stand with Him and inherit the kingdom the He will establish with Jesus Christ as King. As Jesus himself said,
You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
But it is not an easy walk for we battle against the devil in the spiritual realm and we must battle against the passions and desires of the flesh that can lead us to sinfulness. These were precisely the types of battles that Paul was concerned with in the Corinthian church. And it is also an issue we see prevailing still today.
The Issue in Corinth
Paul was struggling with the Corinthian church as it was breaking into splinter groups. There were divisions forming in the church and Paul was trying to show them the foolishness and the danger of where they were headed. He says in verses 3 & 4 of this section,
For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men? 4 For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apol'los,” are you not merely men?
The people of the church were establishing factions, stating allegiances to one or the other of the apostles, teachers and elders who had introduced them to the Lord Jesus Christ and taught them the truth of the gospel.
What they were doing was to divide the church and by so doing were committing a form of idolatry by upholding one man as better than another. When they were saying “I belong to…whoever” they were putting that person on a pedestal above all others and rejecting what the others may have taught or had to say.
Thus their immaturity became clear to all for they were beset with arguments and petty jealousies as they shifted their worship from a pure worship of God to an idolatrous worship of the words of a man or men.
Paul must have been horrified, as too would have Apollos and any of the others of the early church who people put up on pedestals. They were not seeking adulations or fans. They were seeking for people to listen to the words of the truth and give praise, glory and worship to God and Jesus Christ.
Babes in Christ
As such we see Paul show them the folly of their ways and the immaturity in their understanding. He said,
1 But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men
The church was young and they had issues that needed sorting out. And Paul showed that they were immature for he said that he had only fed them spiritual “milk” and not the solid food of the spirit.
Now you only feed milk to the very young because they are incapable of eating and processing solid food. A baby does not have the metabolism to be able to take solid food and in the same way a young Christian does not have the ability to absorb the deeper teachings of Christianity.
It is the old story of, “You have to walk before you can run.” And these people in the Corinth church were yet to be weaned from the spiritual milk for they were not ready for stronger spiritual teachings.
The “milk” teachings are made evident in the first few verses of the book of Hebrews chapter 6, where it speaks of six foundational teachings, being,
- Faith towards God
- Laying on of hands
- Eternal judgement
These six foundations form the basis of the gospel and provide the foundation on which the rest of the teachings of Christ can be built. They provide the knowledge to be able to begin to walk in Christ Jesus and to enable the work of transformation by the Holy Spirit to occur in us as He transforms us into the image of Jesus Christ.
Without these six foundations in place you will be limited in your walk. In fact it will be more of a limp than a walk for these foundations provide the depth of understanding of the new covenant, they explain how we become children of God, they give us the free gifts of righteousness by faith, freedom from sin and freedom from law and they show us how to receive the Holy Spirit and then use the power of the spirit through walking in the spirit to overcome the attacks of Satan and the temptations of the passions and desires of the flesh.
But the church at Corinth had yet to fully absorb these teachings for their behaviors showed they were splintered and fractured and thinking wrongly. They were not walking in the way of the Lord but following their own passions and desires.
When You Came To Christ
Now consider when you first came to Christ, for these same issues at Corinth still exist today. Did you come to Jesus Christ or did you come to a church or a minister? Was the reason you became a Christian because of a desire to know the lord and seek His mercy, grace and freedom to do right, or was it because you wanted to be part of some specific church?
I hope it was the former rather than the latter otherwise you probably need to go and rethink your Christianity.
When most people come to the Lord they come to want to know about Jesus Christ. They want to know what His life and sacrifice are all about. They want to seek a place where they can be set free from all the problems of this world and where freedom reigns. They want to find His love and His compassion and His mercy so that they can live a better life.
Most people do NOT come to church to “belong to Apollos” or to “belong to Paul” or anyone else. Putting it into today's vernacular, most people do not come to the Lord to belong to the Methodist, Anglican, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Congregational, Salvation Army or any other church or denomination you might want to add.
The thing that draws us to Jesus is the desire to know Jesus. It's not about the church but about Jesus and the desire to know Him.
In those initial stages of coming to Christ the church, whichever one it was, is simply the servant of God through which you were called to Jesus. The church performed the initial work of informing you about Jesus as you were being drawn to Jesus by God. It is God who calls you to himself and He uses His servants in the church to do the work of drawing people to Himself.
The church then provides (or it should) the teaching, nourishment and protection as you begin your journey with the Lord. The church is there to help through the ministries the Lord has given to the church of evangelism, pastoring, teaching, prophecy and administration so that the individuals in the church grow and learn and come to the fullness of maturity in Jesus Christ.
But in the end we must all remember who it is we belong to…and it is not some church. The bible says,
You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.” (1 Corinthians 7:23)
Jesus paid the price and it was He who has bought you. And when it says not to become slaves of men, that also includes the church. Do not begin thinking like the Corinthian church thought saying, “I belong to the Mthodists, or I belong to the Pentecostals or whatever. This is wrong thinking and it is thinking like a babe in Christ for the whom you belong to is He who sits at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places. You belong to Jesus Christ who paid for you with His life.
Don't forget it! And don't put one church above another or one minister above another for that is idolatry. Seek Christ and remember that all those who labor in His service are just that…servants to do the work the Lord has appointed for them to carry out.
Learn what leads to maturity so that when Christ returns you can stand perfected in Him, ready and prepared to live into eternity with Christ Jesus. And the Father in the kingdom He has prepared for those who love Him.
(Image sourced from freeimages.com provided by Cylonka bsg)
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