“What I mean is that each one of you says, ‘I follow Paul,’ or ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Cephas,’ or ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:12-13 ESV)
From the earliest days of church history, human beings have had a tendency to divide. Often this division begins as certain leaders rise up, rightly preaching the gospel and inspiring others to do the same. Our hearts are touched and lives changed by their bold example and we seek to “follow them as they follow Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) In and of itself, this is not wrong. We need leaders, forerunners, teachers, and pastors and it is right that they would inspire and encourage those in their area of influence, just as the twelve disciples did.
The Problem of Sin
The problem originates, as all problems do, with sin in the human heart. Discontent to simply praise God for the leaders He’s given us and follow Him wholeheartedly, we begin to splinter around the differences in personality, methods, or doctrine used by various movement and church leaders in the body of Christ. Could anything be more grievous to a God who desires unity?
God, throughout scripture, celebrates the individual differences in humanity, longing for worship from every tribe and tongue. Yet ultimately, when He uses human beings on the earth, it is always meant to point us to Him. Should we be impressed by Moses or Abraham? Should we think that Noah is the one who got it right or David is the one we must model our lives after? Why then would God bare their flaws so bluntly along with their successes? All of these meant to be illustrations of how God uses broken people to accomplish His great purposes, something we grasp quite easily.
Guard Yourself Against Arrogance
How is it different today with any ministry or movement leader? We have become so impressed with people that we lose sight of Jesus and look with suspicion on those who do things differently. Should Paul have looked down on Peter for bringing the gospel to the Jews and not the gentiles, or was he right to recognize their different calls, giftings, and abilities and celebrate that the work was being done? We find ourselves in much the same circumstances today.
Each denomination, movement, and ministry has a tendency to believe that they are the most right, doing the most important work. We must guard ourselves against this kind of arrogance. We are fools if we think we can accomplish anything without the work of all.
One Among Many
GCM is just one movement on the earth, among many. Of course we believe in the call God has given us. We believe in the work we are doing. But if ever we inspire people to look at us, be impressed by us, or to believe that we are the only ones who have figured out missions, ministry, and following Jesus, we have missed it entirely. May we be those who faithfully live out the call of God on our lives, while inspiring and celebrating the other movements on the earth who do it differently, but faithfully. We need each other. The world is burning and the church must arise, every part of it.
Do you follow Paul or Apollos? GCM, FAI, the Antioch movement, Hillsong, YWAM, Frontiers? The evangelicals, calvinists, baptists or pentecostals? Or do you follow Christ, submitting to and learning from flawed humans, doing the work God has called you to do, and celebrating that the message of Christ is going forth, whomever’s mouths, hands, and feet it takes to carry it forward? If GCM and every other movement on the earth falls tomorrow, may we still be found standing on the solid ground of Christ Jesus.