We have all met them; arrogant Christians who boast about almost anything. They tend to grate on us with their pride, wearing their roles like a shield and making their judgments on the rest of us. I was reading in 1 Corinthians 4 and 5 and it struck me that so much of the church discipline that was needed in the early church had to do with pride and power.
In the New Testament we read of conflicts between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians on what to eat, circumcision, and yes, even if you were baptized in John’s baptism or Christ’s baptism. Ananias and Sapphira allowed their greed to lie to the church and were both struck dead because of it (can you imagine if that happened today?). The Greek speaking Christians complained that the Hebrew speaking believers were discriminating against widows in the daily distribution of food.
We see in Philippians where Euodia and Syntyche had a disagreement that actually made its way to the news Paul received while in prison. He appealed to them to settle their disagreement amicably. He even asks the church to help these two women. The whole book of Galatians relates to refuting the teaching of some of the Jewish Christians. They were trying to bind people up to obeying and following the law in order to earn their salvation. Paul wrote an entire letter that talks about freedom in Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 4:18-20, Paul writes, “Some of you have become arrogant, thinking I will not visit you again. But I will come–and soon–if the Lord lets me, and then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power. For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power”
As I read the passage in 1 Corinthians, I had to do some soul searching and I realized that some of those criticisms would lie justly on me. While I like to think I am not arrogant, I recognize that I can be, on occasion, insufferable (just ask my children). I also like to think that I do not give pretentious speeches, but I cannot guarantee that they come across like that sometimes.
I pray that God will keep me humble as I seek to do better and grow more in Christ. I pray constantly for my church and its leaders to be the living hands and feet of Jesus. I pray for the church at large to be more consumed with compassion, than pride; to treat people more tenderly than judgmentally; and to love the freedom we have in Christ more than wearing the chains of legalism.
What I do know is this: Arrogance, pride, and power has no place in our lives as Christians. When we look at the fruit of the spirit, none of those three things are a part of it. Instead we have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. We are part of the body of Christ, and as such we want to live in a way that leads people to live a life more like Jesus.