“…for where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal?” – 1 Corinthians 3:3-4
Paul is speaking to Christians here and was telling them that they were still spiritually immature. The church at Corinth had cliques, groups of people that hung out with each other and some thought they were better than others. Why? Because of the church they went to. Some thought Paul’s teaching was best and some thought Apollos’ teaching was best. As a result, the church, the body of Christ, was divided. The technical term we use for this is sectarianism. This is defined as an excessive attachment to a particular sect or party.
Paul was calling them carnal. What does he mean by this? He was telling them that although they claimed to be Christ followers, they were acting just like the unchanged, unregenerate person. The bigger issue is, they were following men and no longer following Christ.
Paul goes on to denounce himself and Apollos, claiming that they are mere tools in God’s hands. He reminds them that the true foundation of the church is Jesus Christ and we should only build on Him. The only thing that should be preached among the church is Jesus Christ!
In this chapter, Paul reminds himself and others that he planted, Apollos watered, but it is God who does the increasing. This is personally convicting to me. I can try to preach intensely, I can try and do my best to get people in the seats, but I cannot make my church grow. Any farmer knows that growth in fields is a miracle of God. I am only to plant and to water. I am to denounce self, and promote Christ and build upon that sure foundation.
What about you today? Does your life promote envy and strife? Are you of “Democrat” or “Republican?” Are you of “Calvary Chapel” or “Southern Baptist?” Those foundations will all burn. The only foundation we should build upon and the only one that will stand is Jesus!