Friday, July 10, 2009

The Question of Loyalty

“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth: but God that giveth the increase.  (1 Corinthians 3:6)

In his helpful and inspiring book, Knowing Christ, Alister McGrath enumerates what he considers to be the main barriers to this. One of them is being unwilling to grow, mainly because one is unwilling to change, which is the obvious result of growth.

Faith is like a seed, according to Scriptures such as Mark 4:31-32, planted and nurtured to full growth. This process does not always, or even usually, involve only one person, as the verse in 1 Corinthians indicates. And, in any case, the determining factor is the activity of God. Unfortunately, some develop an attachment to the one who evangelizes them (planting), not allowing an “Apollos” to do any discipling (watering), lest they seem ungrateful to the one who brought them to a saving knowledge of Christ. Then, we must never allow the work of either of them to overshadow the personal dealings of God in our lives. Either of these is destined to stunt our Spiritual growth by making us suspicious of any change.

Just how far should loyalty go? Only as far as the Word of God and illumination by the Spirit of God allow. The one who points us to Jesus Christ, and those God uses to nurture and mentor us in the Faith should always be held in the highest regard; but it dishonors both them and God if we set them on pedestals, as McGrath says, making “plaster saints” of them. Our faith is sure to be stunted when there is an “inappropriate continuing influence of voices from the past,” he contends. We will never know Christ as we could as long as we refuse to grow; and we will never grow as long as we are unwilling to change. And we will never change as long as we have misplaced loyalties.

“There is a middle way here,” McGrath suggests, “which is open to the judgments of others, yet ultimately accountable only to Christ.”

There is a chain of command in the local church and the home; but there is no chain of command in the Body of Believers.

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