September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”—1 Corinthians 1:11–17 (NIV)
We live in a culture and society that has become obsessed with following. We follow people on social media, on LinkedIn, on YouTube, on fitness apps. You name it and there’s an option to follow people on it! The practice of following has become so ingrained in our culture that we see it in our physical habits and mental thought processes as much as we do online. The things we buy or consume are often the result of what we’ve seen modeled or endorsed by those we follow—the kind of clothing we wear, the way we decorate our houses, the cars we want, and the places we travel to.
This trend is not something that is solely the result of technology or social media overwhelming society over the past few decades; it’s a habit that can be observed in human nature throughout history! If we think about how deeply this habit of “following” runs in our blood, we might recognize that it stems from a need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We cannot live for ourselves and be satisfied or driven to good. On our own, we will believe lies, fall into pride, and live selfishly. We need a greater purpose to devote our lives to, and we will always come up empty if we try to find that purpose in anything or anyone other than our very own Maker.
This is what we see happening in the Corinthian church in today’s Scripture. Paul is rebuking them for claiming allegiance with specific leaders apart from Jesus. People associated themselves as followers of Paul, Apollos, or Cephas. This was distracting people from the true person they were supposed to be following: their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Paul had to remind them that Jesus appointed different people to preach the good news and play a leadership role in the development of the early church; however, they were only vessels and ambassadors for the One they were to be devoting their lives to.
Even today, it’s still easy to get distracted by the words and lives of other Christians or leaders in the church. Not only that, but we can get distracted by any other person or campaign we’re following. If we devote our attention to something enough, it can become an idol and take the rightful place of Jesus in our minds and hearts. Today, may we not forget that the only One worthy of our attention and worthy of our wholehearted following is Jesus Christ!
Pause: Take a moment and reflect on the things in your life you may be following or devoting your time and attention to. Are any of these things taking the place of Christ?
Practice: We all struggle with idolatry in some way or another. Think about something you devote a lot of attention to. Then, today, sacrifice in that area and instead devote more time to the Lord. Perhaps it’s as simple as spending less time on social media or not listening to anything in the car so you can pray and spend time with God.
Pray: Jesus Christ, You are my Savior and my Lord! I have devoted my life to following You, but sometimes I still get distracted with everything going on around me. My inclination towards following people still gets in the way of my main devotion to following You. I repent and ask that You would strengthen me to continue forging ahead and eliminating the distractions. May I grow in self-control and wisdom to see how I can better devote my attention to You and Your kingdom over the distractions in my life! Amen.
Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.