I saw this on the internet this week about a wolf pack. “A wolf pack: the first 3 are the old or sick, they give the pace to the entire pack. If it was the other way round, they would be left behind, losing contact with the pack. In case of an ambush they would be sacrificed. Then come 5 strong ones, the front line. In the centre are the rest of the pack members, then the 5 strongest following. Last is alone, the alpha male. He controls everything from the rear. In that position he can see everything, decide the direction. He sees all of the pack. The pack moves according to the elders pace and help each other, watch each other.”
In the wolf pack, I think the alpha male is so much in control and believes so much in his own ability to be able to fend off such an attack from behind almost by himself and definitely with quick help from the pack.
I checked this out it’s a nice story but not true! Look it up for yourself, but it is a good illustration of good leadership. So what kind of leader are you, out front charging along without a care to what is happening behind or watching over everyone, and we are all leaders, we lead by example, we lead family, friends, work collages.
1. Are you an infant or mature in Christ?
Now it would be helpful if have your bible open on our passage from 1 Corinthians chapter 3 verses 1-17. Lets look again at the first verses we read, “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ”.
Our writer Paul is not holding back hear, he is telling the reader what he thinks and what he thinks is that they are not Spirit fill believers, that they are just new in their belief infants in their faith, that like all children they have a lot to learn.
Now for some of you are what a friend of mine calls himself and others a cradle Christian in other words someone who has believed all there life, if that’s you this statement may sound strange, but to others like me who had no real faith until later in life we may be able to see where we were in our faith when we first came to give our lives to Jesus, some of us in both groups have grown and some of us are still children in the sense that Paul is talking about.
At this point I would like to say that I have heard some cradle Christians say that they wish they had a life before they know Jesus, don’t envy us, we envy you we don’t want the weight of the guilt, God has forgiven us but it is hard to forgive ourselves.
I remember when I was just a new Christin I would go on about all sorts of things that were wrong with the church the world and other people, and the real Christians those that were full of the spirit just looking at me smiling, love in their eyes not agreeing, but not verbally disagreeing, I now know that they understood I was a baby in Christ Jesus, just like when we listen to some teenagers now and when we were teenagers, teenagers know everything they think, and we know they know very little.
Now the same question is for all Christians as you were feed the gospel either all your life or just a part of it, did you digest it did you take it in, did you let the Spirit of God guide you or did you want to be in control, but still be a member of Gods people a forever baby who has never grown in Jesus and never become Spirit filled.
Paul’s leadership style hear can be described as tough love, he loves the people of Corinth but he does not hold back the truth.
So lets look at what Paul is saying next in verse 2 “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready”. Paul is saying he gave the people what they needed because they were not ready for anything else and they are still not ready for anything else, they are not opening there selves to the Spirit of God they are not open to the full message of the Gospel, they have replaced one religion with another and have not connected with Gods Holy Spirit the one about who Jesus said in John 14:16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever”, now we have to let the Holy Spirit in we have to listen to God’s Spirit. So what was the evidence that they were not moving on in their life with Christ.
Let’s look at what Paul is saying about the problem in verse 3 “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans”?
Paul is saying where is the love of your neighbour, you can’t even love you brother or sister in Christ, now again when I was a new Christian I had this guy give me a right dressing down about how I had lead a small service the first service I had lead ever, he was not filled with love he did not do tough love or any kind of love, he had anger on his face in his voice, he had a right go at me, and me, I just wanted to punch him on the noes, because I know that’s the best place to get the next two or three blows in before they can recover, I did not do that only because I did not want to start a fight in a church, but I was so anger, I spoke, well ranted to a friend who asked me to pray about it and to open myself up to God to see what God had to say about it, so I did and God said forgive him, forgive him the *******, the next week we had communion and I felt God tell me to go and shear the peace with this chap, so I did, I forgave him.
Now here’s the thing, when we say confession or share the peace God know if we mean it, we can’t full God.
Jesus said love your neighbour as yourselves. I have a question associated with this what are you teaching your children, if someone winds you up do you complain about them in front of your children, do you run them down in front of your children, children repeat most things, epically what they hear adults say they think it makes them sound clever and grown up, the other day I heard a child say something not very nice about another member of the church and there was no way the chid would have used this statement it was so obviously and adult statement. This is incredibly poor leadership, if we can’t say something good say nothing.
So the question Paul and I are asking are we children of God or are we just like the world are be behaving like mere humans.
And look at verse 4 Paul gives some more examples of what is going wrong he says in verse 4 “ For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings”? So part of the problem was that vey human thing of my side is best, my church is better than yours because we do this or we don’t do that, and Paul reminds them that they are better than that, they are more than the people who do not yet know Jesus. Yes in other church’s some practices may be questionable, but the bottom line in do they know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, if yes then they are a brother or sister in Christ.
2. Are you a servant-hearted leader?
In verse 5 to 9 Paul explains what in wrong with their thinking he says “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building”.
Who am I who is Phil, who is Bishop Steven or even Archbishop Justin Welby, we are all the same we are servants, co-workers who have listen to God and have been given a task by God, now I don’t know what Phil has done wrong to end up hear with me and you lot, but I know he listened to God and I know I listened to God, to come and minster to teach all you lovely wonderful people, well most of you are lovely, well some of you are, no you are all great, and you are Gods field, you are God’s building, well you are if you let yourselves be Gods glory, we all have our part to play in Gods Kingdom hear on earth in Gidea Park in our family’s and our work places, God has chosen you and me and we are all true leaders, we lead our family’s our friends and work collages to Jesus Christ, Jesus did not say keep it quiet, he said tell everyone, your faith is not private it should be public, because Jesus said so.
3. Are we building wisely on Christ, our foundation?
Now in verse 10 and 11 Paul tells us how to do that Paul says “ By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ”.
Jesus is the foundation, Jesus is the rock on which our faith is based, don’t know how to share your faith Jesus showed us, don’t know what to say Jesus told us and as I mentioned earlier Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to help us, Just be open and listen to that small still voice and be brave, that that step of faith.
A good leader works as a team and our leader our true leader Jesus works with a team, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and you all of us who want to be part of that team, no one is forced and if you really join the team you will be a true leader.
Now in versus 12 and 13 Paul gives us a warning 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.
Now Paul is not really talking about a bricks and mortar building he is using an illustration he is saying that you need to build your faith on solid doctrines, not on false doctrines and ideas, study the bible, what does it say, where does your theology come from the world or the Bible and Jesus, our foundation is Jesus and the Bible and we have the added advantage over Pauls readers we have the Church Fathers from Ambrose, and Augustine todays great teachers like John Stott and one of my favourites Francis Chan, to name but a few, to help us grow in our faith.
And Paul warns that we need to build upon this foundation this strong sure foundation so that our faith will stand the test of fire unlike poor foundations made of wood, hay and straw, these are comparatively worthless things which we might build upon i.e poor teaching and poor doctrine.
So what Paul is saying hear is a Christian foundation is a most priceless gift and it is a gift which every Christian has been granted. After coming to Christ we need to be careful regarding what we place on that foundation. That foundation which has been given to us by God and is the Lord Jesus Christ, we need to weigh what we say and how we lead others.
Now Paul goes on to say 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
Verse 14 is very clear good builder good leader no problem you will be rewarded, but verse 15 if what you have made is burned, you the leader the builder will suffer, but you will not be lost, I read this like this, at some point wither in this life or on judgment day what we have done will be made clear to us and if we have been using poor theology been a bad builder the truth will hits us, it will be devastating, as we know fire is devastating as we have witnessed very recently, but they will be ok. Verse 15 confirms that these are God’s true people since they are certainly saved - that is not in question - for no one can snatch us, or pluck us, out of the Father’s hand (John 10:28) - however, the useless things in our present lives will not make it through the fire.
4. Do you know you are a temple of the Spirit?
Verse 16 Paul says “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple”.
What is Paul saying God loves you, yes He loves you, if you have accepted His Son Jesus Christ he will protect you, God loves everyone, but not everyone loves God.
And those that have accepted Jesus into their lives are Gods dwelling place, where the Holy Spirit lives, and if anyone try’s to take you away, then God will not help them.
So as we come in to land:
Are you an infant in Christ, or do you not know Jesus? If the answer to either is yes please see me or Phil after the service or contact us to talk through how to grow in Christ or how to become a true Christian follower of Jesus. If you think you are an infant and want to grow you need to open yourself up to the Holy Spirit, listen and obey that small still voice, don’t think of reasons not to do what God asks just do it.
Are you in the world, are you a Sunday Christian, or are you in Jesus, are you His servant and co-worker in Gods service, or are you working for yourself and what you can get.
If you are in Christ are you building up others on good foundations and with good teaching, are you teaching your children true Christian love or are you compiling about others and in front of the children? As I said we are all leading someone, family, friends, work collages.
We who believe are God’s temple and we should be full of God Holy Spirit, we should be doing His work, we should be building others up not knocking them down, we should all be true leaders in Christ helping each other and others to know Jesus, spreading the Good news that God loves us all. Being leaders who raise up other leaders, to be disciples who rise up other disciples.
Lets Pray: Father God, thank you that you love us and that you love this world, Father we pray for an infilling of you spirit and that we will be true leaders of those that you put with us and near us. Help us Lord to be leaders who rise up leaders to be disciples who raise up other disciples. For your glory. Amen