1Corinthians 4: I don’t even rank myself.
Some of the church members in Corinth have concluded that Paul needs to be put in his place. He’s a long way distant and they like Apollos better anyway. Paul tells them that he’s not interested in their “preacher rankings” and is happy to drop out of the race, adding that he’s quite sure Apollos feels the same way about it. Frankly, they don’t have the proper credentials to judge anybody. If anyone is going to do some judging it’s the one who knows the heart, Christ. Beyond all that, Paul isn’t just saying these things because their attitude has gotten under his skin. As a loving father wants to help his children grow up. He wants them to move on in their spiritual walk. Their current attitude is childish and unproductive. In spite of the fact that they have everything needed to mature in their faith they’re stuck at a nursery-level spiritual life. When he comes in person Paul, their spiritual father, intends to help them move on up. His arrival won’t bring another round of debates. Rather, it’ll be marked by his spiritual power and authority in Christ. I know there’s more going on here than this, but I find in this passage a caution against personality driven religion. No doubt, there are some church leaders who encourage a cult-like following, but most aren’t trying to build an earthly kingdom. Like Paul and Apollos, they want to make Christ-like, Christ-following disciples. I find it interesting that before there was radio and television and book writing preachers church folks were already tempted to focus more on the preacher than on Jesus. Paul says, “Don’t do it!”
Take Away: The preacher can’t save you – keep your focus on the One who can.