Associations and Affiliations

John the Baptist had some scathing words for the Pharisees and Sadducees as they approached him while he was baptizing people in the Jordan. Among other things, he chastised them for their misplaced reliance on their affiliation to Abraham (Matthew 3:9). These groups had come to put too much weight on this and had neglected the more important matters.

Paul admonished the Corinthians for nearly the same thing — their gloating about their associations. They were saying, ‘”I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,…”‘ (1 Corinthians 1:12) and ignoring the real issue at hand.

When aligning ourselves with a person, a minister, an organization or even with a church, we can often feel safe because of numbers, past reputation or espoused doctrine. We can believe that by virtue of our alliance with them, we are justified in our current state and position.
But note the admonitions by John and Paul regarding those that were resting on the laurels of others: John the Baptist told the Jews that they needed to repent (Matthew 3:8); Paul goes on to direct those at Corinth, “that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the LORD’” (1 Corinthians 1:31). In other words, we cannot become complacent with our current condition, and we must continue to change it by looking to the Example who is “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

There have been many, even in our recent history, that have failed to remain on guard, thinking they were in the right place or that they could ride the coattails of another. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13).