“And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations?” (I Corinthians 3:1 – 3)
There is within my thought process a struggle – to make a comment or comparison between the young believers in Corinth and certain people/segments of society, or to remain silent. But even telling you my struggle, beloved reader, I tip the balance and show my hand. But I could not keep quiet – could not for any reason keep quiet about this!
That is not to say I expect that everyone espouses Christianity, or the same stream of Christianity that I do. Nor am I judging anyone, or at least trying not to. But when bickering and quarreling, and jealousy of one kind or another are splashed across the media, it would take a saint to keep quiet. And I am NOT a saint!
For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (Verses 4 – 6)
Paul had touched on this subject previously in I Corinthians; I remember because I commented on it at the time. I have to be less admonition-ish about this because one of the names of my faith tradition, Mennonites, is taken from the name of one of the leaders of the faith Menno Simons. So while I understand what Paul is saying, I need to give some latitude here. It was a name first assigned to the group who during the Reformation separated themselves from the Catholic Church and found support and leadership where it was offered.
But I think Paul’s thoughts are in a different direction than assuming a name as a description of the faith. If the problem was in old Corinth that believers would not come together in fellowship because one identified with Paul and the other with Apollos, then Paul’s admonition focuses not on the name but the refusal to see the cohesiveness of the new Christian faith. The faith journey of the Mennonites/Anabaptists is far too involved a story to lay out here.
“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (Verses 7 – 9)
Another thing this passage reminds me of is an experience I had a good many years ago. I was feeling a little lost in my faith and wanted to reach out for some spiritual support. A nearby church had a prayer center, and on some days of the week and at certain times members of the church made themselves available to pray for whoever came. I went.
It was part physical healing prayer and part praying for God’s presence and support. But there was something sort of “off/not quite right” about it and the Spirit (yes, capital letter “S”) started whisper to me “run away!” In keeping with the prayers seeming sincerity, I offered a prayer of my own. I was told by one of the prayers, “people come here for us to pray for them, not to pray themselves!” The Spirit got it right! Run away!
My point is, believers can have the best of intentions and think that they know how this faith journey is supposed to be. But errors and misunderstandings can easily happen. Sometimes too easily! And yes, those who look like “grown ups” can actually be infants in the faith. As for the prayer center – I saw that a few weeks after I was there, it closed down. Thanks be to the Spirit of the Lord who oversees our faith growth! Selah!