Scripture: 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:15
Key verses: (3:6-7) I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
Reflection: I have served with three different congregations during my time as an ordained pastor. Notice the preposition “with.” I choose not to say that I served “for” them or even just served those congregations. I believe that God has called me to serve “with” lots of wonderful people. Some are ordained colleagues, some are not. Some are my peers, and some are not. Some of them are easier to like than others. Together we serve God.
The distinctions get muddy sometimes and we forget who is serving whom. That was true in the Corinthians church. They had become focused on particular leaders and clearly had their favorites. Some liked Paul best; others liked Apollos best. Paul was distraught by their divisions. He knew that faithful leaders aren’t competitors but are companions in service. He didn’t want a fan club. He wasn’t tallying his followers or checking how many people liked his sermon posts. Paul wanted people to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Paul planted seeds of faith in Corinth. Apollos came along and gave those seeds encouraging water and fertilizer. But God gave the growth.
Pastors face this temptation. Whenever a group of pastors gathers, we are tempted to slide into conversation about how many members we have, how large our budgets are, even how many services we must do on Christmas Eve to accommodate everyone (always said with a groan, like we are making a huge sacrifice). I wonder if that’s true for church members too. Maybe we compare churches. Maybe we compare pastors. Maybe we have our favorites. Let’s remember who gives the growth. Only God gives the growth that helps me to be more faithful. Only God gives the growth that helps you follow Christ.
Prayer: O God, when I focus on the wrong things, correct my vision. When I fixate on the divisions, correct my steps. When I forget my calling to follow Jesus, correct my path. Keep my eyes focused on you, keep my faith fixated on your way, and keep my steps following only Jesus. In his name I pray. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].