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. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9
I have a dear friend who I hardly ever talk to. It’s not their fault, really. Neither one of us tries super hard to keep in touch. The thing is, he and I are always very close when we are around each other. We go deep very quickly every time he is in town. He is the type of person who is fully present wherever he is. He does this intentionally, but I think it is so easy for everyone to focus more on the people they see often.
Is that how we operate with God, too? Think about it. We don’t physically see God. We don’t often (maybe never) hear him speak with an audible voice. Even though we know through faith that God is everywhere and that we can speak to him at any time, it’s hard to focus on god without these physical senses isn’t it? It’s easy to look down on the Corinthian church for letting themselves get too attached to Apollos or to Paul but isn’t that what we all tend to do? We know that Jesus is the foundation of our faith but Jesus isn’t around right now. I mean he is, but it can feel like he isn’t, right? When you look at this text through those lenses it’s easier to give them a break, huh?
It is deeply human to gravitate to what we can see, touch, hear, and taste. We are such physical creatures. Our experience of the world is through our senses but our faith is so often in our mind. That is the risk of leadership in the church. Even wonderful leaders like Paul and Apollos can begin to replace the role that God should play in our hearts. Even a leader who spends their entire time pointing you back to Jesus can be set up too high in our hearts. So what do we do with that? How do we avoid overemphasizing our leaders and forgetting the founder of our faith, namely Jesus?
First, we must learn to get our faith into the physical. We won’t stop being creatures of the physical and our faith shouldn’t remain in our minds alone. As we begin to practice the way of Jesus in our everyday lives, ideas about God begin to take on a physical form in the relationships we form. We begin to be able to see, touch, taste, and hear what the kingdom of God is like.
We must also cultivate a prayer life that believes that God is still alive and speaking to us. As we pray with anticipation that God is going to lead us into his way, we begin to hear his voice. We may not hear him with an audible voice but we sense his voice. As we act on those nudges from God we see his voice take physical form through the lives we touch. This week, don’t let your faith remain in your mind alone. Let the way of Jesus make its way into your body and into your senses by obeying the way of Jesus. Take a moment and ask yourself, what are the barriers in your heart to trusting Jesus only?
By Aaron Bjorklund