1 Corinthians 3:1-9 NIV
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
I used to think there were only two types of people, saved and unsaved. Here it sounds like there are three, the natural man or sinner, the spiritual man or believer, and the worldly man, or the carnal Christian. Paul even refers to those he calls worldly as brothers and sisters so it sounds like they are actually still Christians, just not mature Christians. It sounds like he is talking about those who look to certain individuals to follow and then quarrel with each other when disagreeing about which is the one to follow. They are actually worldly since they are acting like mere humans, following after humans rather than God.
Sounds much like today. I was with a group who for whatever reason began talking politics. I really believe all were believers and followers of Jesus but had some different ideas about which side was the right one to follow. I even heard one say that if you followed one side you really weren't a follower of Jesus and didn't have a real relationship with him or know the truth. I have also heard the same being said about following a certain pastor or church group and have heard preachers on the radio preach the same. Paul says when this happens we are just being mere humans. He talks about how each of those who are leaders have a special purpose. Paul's purpose was to build on the foundation of Jesus. All he would do is plant the seed as he said, or to tell the people what the Lord wanted him to say. Then it was up to the Holy Spirit to get them to see the truth, not Paul. Apollos' was to water or add things to what Paul said to help them begin to understand, but God's purpose is to make everything grow or mature. It is God we are to focus on and follow rather than others. He is the one Who shows us how to walk and to understand the truth about Whom He is.
Seems like the whole reason we can't be united is that we try to follow humans rather than God. I have been very guilty of this myself. Trying to decide who is right and whom I should listen to and on whom's side I should be, and I become frustrated with whomever disagrees or worse, I tend to isolate from the brother whom I'm quarreling with. That is probably even more of what the enemy wants, for Christian brothers and sisters to isolate and not even talk to each other. As long as I think and act in this way I am being a mere human or worldly. My purpose is not to make sure others understand the truth, that needs to come from the Holy Spirit. My only purpose is to share the gospel or the good news about Jesus. Later in this chapter Paul says that someday we will all be tested by what we have said and done and what isn't worthy to remain will be burnt away by fire. It is up to God to judge our deeds and what is and isn't worthy to remain. This reminds me of a fantastic sermon Rob preached a year or two ago. He taught that as believers this doesn't mean we will go to an eternal fire if we are wrong about certain things we've said or done but that the wrong things about and in us will be burnt away by fire and only the pure things will remain. We will be rewarded by what comes from the fire.
As I talk with other Christians I want to listen and hear about what they are sensing the Spirit is showing them. Rather than arguing with them I want to learn to agree with the things we are both sensing from the Spirit, and let go of the things we don't agree with, rather than quarreling about them, or just isolating ourselves from them. We need to go to the Scriptures and pray and ask God to show His truth.
by Ken Edgerly