1 Corinthians 3:16-20
Paul seems to be attempting to get these early Christians to, you know, grow up. Here they are, just a few years after Jesus’ death, and they are already splintering into cults of personality. Some are Apollos Christians; some are Paul Christians. Each seems to believe that they’re wiser than the other guy. Paul tries to nip that in the bud in his “not-so-fast” kind of way. Just a few verses earlier, he reminds them (and us) that we are all co-workers in God’s service; “you are God’s field, God’s building” (v. 9). Presuming that we’re wiser than the person sitting next to us is a sure formula to destroy ourselves.
The gluttony of self-assured wisdom. There is a particular humbleness that Paul is calling us to embrace. (The irony that this comes from Paul, who doesn’t come across as a particularly humble guy, is something we’ll leave for another day.) We see this play out in the corporate sector all the time. Radio Shack, Lehman Brothers, Enron—who actually referred to themselves as “the smartest guys in the room”—were all gone in a cloud of hubris.
Emo Philips—always one of my go-to theologians—expressed this notion of self-assured “wisdom” in his Golden Gate Bridge routine (check it out on YouTube). A paradox for believers is that we often disagree more ferociously with someone just a few notches away from ourselves. Entire faith traditions have begun from a splintered view on a single issue. As though our compass is the only one that points to true north. This is the gluttony of trying to be smarter than you.
How have I done damage to myself as God’s temple in believing that I’m right and everyone else is…not?
God, keep me humble. Keep me curious. And when I’m right, help me have the grace to let someone else say it. Amen.