During my day’s devotion, I was impressed with this thought regarding Paul and the statement he makes to the Corinthians:
“Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” 1 Cor 4:16-17 (KJV)
What struck me was the thought he taught the same thing, no matter who he was speaking with and it did not change at all, and then he had the audacity to command, not suggest, but to specifically demand them to “follow me”! How many of us can make that claim? Oh, I did when I was involved in prison ministry as a chaplain in Green Haven Correctional facility in upstate New York. I remember specifically saying the same thing, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” It was also the same place where some years later, when standing before an expectant church when I left the pulpit because I said, “Remember when I told you at one time to “follow me as I follow Christ”? Well, I’ve stopped following Christ.” And I left. I never returned and it is my hope today, as I reflect back to that time, they were truly following Christ, because I had lost my way. Perhaps something was said and done because in 2010 I would meet someone who was there back in 1985, who remembered me and remarked how much he appreciated my service.
What struck me, too, was this fact: Paul preached the same thing regardless of who he was in front of. It did not change or was altered in the least bit. Nobody from Corinth could claim hearing something different in Rome, or Thessalonika, or Ephesus. It was all the same. So, is it any wonder when you see churches which make the claim of having sprung from the preaching of the Apostle, yet speaking differently! And in some cases, not only differently between the various denominations but even within the same body! What has happened to the “Church of Christ” when there seem no sense of one-ness, similarity? When there is battling among each other about what Paul said, one thinking to be over each other, when both are below the standard as given by this great Apostle!
Even in my own body of believers, now, for sure there is much going on because the enemy would find it necessary to bring corruption, but even still, there could not be this corruption unless there were willing participants. Nobody studies like the Bereans did and those who do find themselves at battle with others who claim the same study. So, what do we make out of all this? Is Christ now divided? Does Christ speak differently than He did then to us now? Like Paul, I have to acclaim, “God forbid”. So, it is with much humbleness and much regret and much pain and sorrow I can no longer say, “Follow me” or “Follow Paul”, because in essence, none of us know what the hell is the truth anymore! And sadly, that is where many of us will be residing at the end of time.
Paul also claimed to be the “father” of the churches he caused to rise up. It is only now I know the proper distinction between what Christ said we should not do by calling any man our father as opposed to Paul making the claim he is such. I’ll leave that for others to ponder. I now understand. And it is that understanding which helps me to understand what we need to do regardless of where you make your church home and I’m speaking to all those who claim the name of Christ, we need to get back to the Source, the Father, because He is the ONLY ONE who can help us in our great time of confusion.
We need to individually get His attention and help in guiding us through the muck and mire of what we have done to His Church. Instead of us claiming to be of “Paul” or “Apollos”, we claim to be of “Henriques” or “Brooks” or “Wright” or “Bohr” or “Batchelor”. The others are not different. They claim to be of “Jakes” or “Olsen” or “Dollar” or “Meyer” or “Copeland”. Who do you follow? If you make the claim, “Christ”, then why is it you stand in the minority? Well, that was an easy one. Christ died standing alone and, my friends, this is how we must do it, too. We must learn to stand alone. We must learn how to seek Him alone. We must learn how to die for Him alone. It is through those “alone” times is when we will finally get our bearing. It will be that “alone” time between us and the Holy Spirit which will draw “ALL MEN UNTO HIM”, no longer singularly, but together, because that’s what He does and does it best. It was Him who was able to make the difference in that Upper Room, which caused them all to be under the “same accord” and then it was with His greatness and power they were able to go out and convert thousands in one sermon, changing lives which has brought us to this one point in time. Sometimes we need to go back, not to see how far we have gone off the path, but to get back to the path before we venture forward again, this time knowing where we are going.
I don’t know about you but I’ve decided to go back and get some “alone” time because someone needs to do it in order to go forward being able to say with conviction, both in example of life and in tongue, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”
January 26, 2017