1 Corinthians 3: 21- 4:7
So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.
Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
The social media across twitter, Facebook, whatsapp was abuzz with the debate of “Messi Vs Ronaldo”. Let me clarify that I am a Messi maniac. When I am truly low, I turn to youtube to see the videos of his best compilations of his goals. I just can’t get enough of it. 2010 when Germany literally humiliated Argentina in the World Cup quarter finals, I did not sleep that night. In 2014, I was sure the day of redemption is very bear as it was Argentina vs Germany in the finals and I would be alive to see Messi lift the coveted trophy. I was so confident about the victory that I decided to do a screening for all interested to come and see the match at the parsonage (place where a priest lives). But again I faced humiliation as Argentina lost. As a Barcelona fan, supporting Messi was awesome but not so with Argentina. But we all had one question that settled all equations “What has Ronaldo done for Portugal? How many World Cups or Euro has he won?” Things in the recent times got ‘messier’ when Argentina lost the Copa America 2016 to Chile which broke all the Messi fans’ hearts when in a fit of emotions the wizard of football declared his decision to retire from playing for Argentina. I honestly was shattered. My wife now has become used to such madness of mine and has made her peace with it. To make things worse, the jail term for tax evasion did nothing good for Messi or his fans. But we all had one solace. “What great did Ronaldo do for Portugal?” That too was snatched away from us on 10th July 2016 when Portugal won the Euro 2016 and the inspiration of Ronaldo was instrumental for this victory, at least I cannot deny. Now I am just exploring this human phenomenon of just not being a fan, but also about denigrating the rival of the idol we admire. As a Rafa fan, I could not stand Federer. Because I loved Rahul Dravid, I neither liked Sachin nor Ganguly. Please bear with my rant on basis of the passage above.
During the times of Paul, is Appollos better or is it Peter or is it Paul, was a debate in the Market place. Therefore these apostles had their own fan clubs. If you are a follower of Appollos, you would detest Paul and Cephas (Peter). This rivalry was actually doing no good to the church and Paul addresses it in this passage. He exhorts them not to boast in human leaders. Vs 6 is very significant. Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.” Puffed up? Some translation says pride one over other. Normal word for pride in Greek should be hubris. But the word that Paul uses here is physioo. It is an unusual word. Paul uses it here and another five times in this particular book and once in Colossians You will not find it anywhere else in the Bible as it is used only by Paul. By using this particular word, Paul is trying to teach these Corinthians something about the human ego. This word used here for pride literally means to be overinflated, swollen, distended beyond its proper size. It brings to mind the image of a balloon. There is a picture here. Imagine going to a shop. You ask for Balloons. You get a packet. You take one out of it. What is the size of the Balloon? Small and the texture of the balloon is opaque. Now blow air into it. It takes a larger size. It becomes transparent. It is full of air. Paul says that the pride we have in our lives is like the empty hot air in the balloon. So when we live a life of a fan to its extreme, we are living a borrowed life. We are not happy with the original size of the balloon. So we attach ourselves to heroes and derive self worth and self esteem. But this is still emptiness. It does not do any good. It gives an illusion that you are something with all the air. It is just that your ego is puffed up. An admirer of Messi will also admire the dedication of Ronaldo. If it becomes Messi Vs Ronaldo, it is an infantile ego game. Attaching ourselves to any human leader beyond a point is also similar. Why do you think that people troll each other so mercilessly over P.M. Narendra Modi. Some venerate him and some hate him. People derive their identity by associating with such human figures and their heroics. Paul reminds, it is like hot air inside the balloon. Now keep the balloon in your imagination. You have a filled balloon in your hand. Take a candle. Light the candle. Bring the balloon to the candle and there you go. The balloon will burst. Anybody knows that.
Paul in 1 Corinthians 3: 21 is trying to say, fill yourself with God in Christ. Keep the Balloon image intact. Pick another empty balloon. Do not fill air. Instead fill water into it. It is in your hand. Now take the candle next to you. Bring that balloon near the candle. Bring the water balloon even closer. It will burst, isn’t it? For a science ignorant like me, I was surprised when the balloon did not burst. It survives the heat. With God being the centre of our lives, we are like the water balloons, no matter how terrible the situation, we will not burst.
Paul gives us a timely reminder that humans and their heroics will fascinate us. We will enjoy it and venerate it. But in the end, it is just a borrowed life. Let us not be so fragile, so as to derive identity from such human icons. It is all hot air. Let the Holy Spirit fill you to live an authentic life where you take risks to be in the heat of the world and are driven to action to make this world a better place.
In the meanwhile enjoy the game. I have started to read up on Ronaldo and his inspirational rise. Similarly it teaches me, envy too is a game of pitching ourselves with our perceived competitor. In this, we trust that we deserve more than our competitor. We fill ourselves with hot air of pride to be burst by the circumstances of life. Let the Holy Spirit fill us to trust God and He will adequately fill us.
*If this is not enough, let me introduce you to Mummy Logic
She Says “They play, they earn, they win, they lose, they train, they live, why are you losing your sleep. Do what you can with your life.