In the first four verses of today’s reading Paul sends out a warning all of us should take heed to. Paul in these verses is basically saying those that depend on others or in this case more directly those that led them to Jesus rather than actually Jesus Himself are but still immature Christians. We have a problem with this in our modern day world, how many would fall if some of the great luminaries of the church fell? How many would be so discouraged by the tragedy of another humans stumbling that they themselves would stumble. Paul tells the church in Corinth, you’re not ready to really eat “solid” spiritual food because you are still dependent on Paul or Apollos.
A few years ago I wrote a blog about what I perceived to be the dangers of the ONE Project and GYC conferences. Many took great offense to this blog post and because it came so near to the time of one of those events happening I didn’t want it to be perceived as being biased for or against one or the other. But I feel I should restate the danger I perceive here. My question and concern was, are these the best use of our resources to create what I have heard Rick Warren refer to as “conference Christians” people that attend a Christian conference, have a great experience, get all excited and then basically live off of that ’till the next conference, but there is no real long term change in their lives. The backlash I received from this blog actually affirmed I think my point and also what Paul wrote to the Corinthians about. Many private messaged me and some did so publicly as well saying, “I know people that live for the one project, that without this event they would feel spiritually lost.” Or Iike one young person said, “Every year I go to GYC so it can get me excited again.” I believe both such sentiments are what Paul is speaking of in regards to himself and Apollos. If we need events or people to to sustain us then we are still drinking spiritual milk, not solid spiritual food. And that is my concern with events such as the above I listed, or we could throw in Catalyst or Exponential, not that anything is wrong in and of themselves, but they may be a facilitator of the very thing Paul is speaking against, creating immature man dependent Christians.
With that in mind Paul points out that the work of him or Apollos or we could say the events I listed above or any of us individuals as Pastors or Spiritual leaders whether we have truly built upon Jesus, or our own personalities, or the entertainment and flair of an event will eventually be revealed,
“Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” 1 Cor. 3:12-15
Without intent or purpose I am sure that I have “lead” some to Jesus but maybe it was at times more about me and I’ve been more of their foundation than Jesus, therefore I love that after such a scripture as that above that The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to extend a word of grace at the end of it,
“If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
I don’t think, maybe I am just to idealistic but I don’t believe the majority of us in ministry ever try to make it about us, but I know we can. The “yet as through fire” I believe will be the realization some have been lost because of what we did or did not do and I know even now the thought of that breaks my heart. Some that I have loved that have passed away and I wonder what more I could have done to reach them with Jesus’ love, and this thought eats at me…
I think of HMS Richards who related the story of a lady he visited in one of his first evangelistic campaigns, she had company over so he didn’t stay and he said he also didn’t pray with her, that night she killed herself. He said he’s never failed to pray with an interest again, and even though it was 50 years later that he was relating this story you could still hear the pain and regret in his voice.
Again I thank Jesus for grace!
So those are my thoughts for today’s reading. I have a few more, but maybe you’ll hear them in a sermon some day down the road 🙂
Have a great preparation day and a wonderful Sabbath tomorrow!
Tomorrow’s Reading: Genesis 36-39