Speaking Of Life 2012 | Refreshing Voices
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”
These are the words of Paul to the Corinthian community. The problem Paul addresses there was division. Corinth was a cosmopolitan community in which everyone was after the latest thing.
They were looking for the latest teacher fad that would have them ahead of the crowd and up with the newest thing. Notice Paul’s words:
“For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?” 1 Corinthians 3:4 NRSV)
Everyone was trying to one-up each other on who they were following. “I’m listening to the new podcast from Paul!” “That’s nothing! I have an autographed first edition Thessalonians!” Everybody is in-fighting over who’s the best and brightest and newest.
David Ogilvy, father of modern-day advertising, talked about what he felt was negligible difference between top-shelf and mid-shelf whiskey. He said it came down to presentation: “It isn’t the whiskey they choose, it’s the image. The brand image is 90 percent of what the distiller has to sell…They are tasting images.”
Drinkers didn’t particularly like one whiskey over another, they couldn’t discern between the different blends, they just liked the image of it. Whether it is the southern genteel image of Jack Daniels, the wild western image of Buffalo Trace, or images of any other popular brands.
The Corinthian community was after an image, trying to be in the in-crowd. Division was the result, with each trying get the best brand and taste the best image of the gospel.
Paul demolishes this kind of dime-store idolatry. He shows them that all these leaders are part of the same process and that the cause is more important than the individuals involved.
“What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:5-7 NRSV)
He shows them that the teachers, however memorable or eloquent they may be, are only one small part of the big picture; the big picture is God rescuing his people from sin, and the individual pixels are nothing without each other.
In a world not just drinking, but drunk on images, how can we be a refreshing voice? Rather than being remembered for our presentation or our style, can we instead be remembered for being conduits of Christ’s light and love? For being image-bearers and servants of the magnificent Triune God? For remembering and reminding others that it is God who gives the growth and deserves the glory?
Can we be remembered for being refreshing voices?
I’m Greg Williams, speaking of life.