On November 18, 1978, cult leader Jim Jones and more than 900 of his followers committed mass suicide in the jungles of Guyana. Jones was a charismatic leader who drew people in with promises of building a utopia-type community, where everyone would be equal. Once within the group, complete loyalty was demanded. Under investigation by the U.S. government, Jones convinced his followers to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. Many were so enthralled with Jones that they believed whatever he told them and did whatever he said. The results were devastating.
While the example of Jim Jones is extreme, the truth is “man-followers” have always existed, even among God’s people. The Apostle Paul rebuked the saints at Corinth saying, “…there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal (I Corinthians 3:3-4). Apparently these believers, like some today, had become enamored with those who had ministered to them. They would champion one over the other, give them their undying loyalty, and continually extol their virtues. Apollos was “…an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures…” (Acts 18:24). This capability drew an avid following, which championed him as its leader (I Corinthians 1:12). The Apostle Paul was less polished yet God enabled him to perform “…the (miraculous) signs of an apostle…and wonders, and mighty deeds” (II Corinthians 12:12). In either event, believers were placing their focus on these men rather than upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Today such loyalties would manifest itself in treating their teachers like a celebrity, following them around the country, seeking photo ops with them, and continually quoting them. But none of this is God’s way. Paul told these saints that those who planted the seed of God’s Word in their lives were not “any thing” (I Corinthians 3:7). Paul continued: “…these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred…that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one be puffed up for one against another” (I Corinthians 4:6). Since Paul and Apollos were truly godly men, their desire was to see people give their love, loyalty, and enthusiasm to the Lord instead of to them.
Dear believer, don’t drink the Kool-Aid of becoming overly enamored with those who minister for the Lord. Be thankful for their ministry, but keep your focus on the Lord Jesus Christ.
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