Thursday, February 3, 2011

beyond what is written

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.
1 Corinthians 4:6

These are the closing arguments Paul gives to the Corinthians on the subject of divisive celebrity culture in the church. He admonishes them not to ever let commitment to any personality lead them astray from an understanding of the holy scriptures. What is written is what guides and instructs them. God may use people to teach and proclaim His Word, but we must never confuse His message with His messenger.

Paul's point is that good teachers do not draw attention to themselves. He and Apollos were not into gathering followers for themselves. In fact, in the next section (1 Corinthians 4:8-13) Paul gets a little sarcastic in explaining that when apostleship functions as it should, the apostles are not first in line, but rather last in line. His experience was that there was nothing glamorous in His service and ministry. The Corinthians had created the false fame with their insistence upon celebritizing the ministry.

The best way to keep from personality driven ministry is to focus on the Word of God. Ministry leaders who make much of the Bible and practice the teachings of scriptures themselves with humility can ward off much of the celebrity cult. I said "much of the celebrity cult", because it is human nature to praise man. And it is tempting to believe your own press. I know. I have been tempted to do so from time to time. At the end of any sermon, my heart wants everyone to pat me on the back. That is my human pride. But the reality is that if I do my job in service to the Lord, at the end of any service, people should be going to Jesus. To want or look for anything else is to go beyond what is written.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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