Be Very Careful In How You Admire Christian Leaders

Being a Christian leader is very dangerous and treacherous. Not only is there the constant danger of slander and personal attack from those who dislike you, there is also the continual threat of hero worship from those who admire you. Of the two, the second is probably more dangerous. This is because it is harder to recognize. None of us have any problem realizing when we are being unjustly criticized, but it is much harder for us to recognize when we are being flattered given unwarranted praise. Those of us who are not Christian leaders need to be very careful how we treat our leaders. We need to make sure, of course, that we do not criticize them unjustly, but we should also be careful in how we praise them. The bottom line is that we should not choose any one man to represent us. We should identify only with Jesus Christ. We are not to see ourselves as followers of Luther, or John MacArthur, or John Piper. We are followers of Jesus.

Carefully read these words from the Apostle Paul:

Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. (I Corinthians 4:6)

First of all, the Apostle Paul sets a good tone by referring to the Corinthians as his brothers and sisters. He does not set himself on a higher spiritual plane, even though He is one of the original Apostles, and they are new gentile believers from a problem-ridden church. He has spoken symbolically about himself and his friend Apollos hoping to teach the Corinthians a lesson that they can apply elsewhere. The lesson is: “do not go beyond what is written.” Apparently this means that we should not give our leaders any more credit than the word of God gives them, which is indeed very little at all. They are chosen vessels for displaying God’s power: not their own. Paul, as one of the greatest Christian leaders of all times, warns the Corinthians not to be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. Christians should not be constantly pitting their heroes against each other. Those who admire the writings of John Calvin should not become conceited towards those who prefer the writings of John Wesley, and vice versa.

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