1 Corinthians 4: Remaining Consistent
Humans seem to be wired for community. We generally enjoy being around other people, and we learn a lot from the people we associate with. In the case of the early church, Paul clearly wanted to emphasize in 1 Corinthians 4 that there is value in learning in a community that taught classical Christianity.
1Co 4:16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
1Co 4:17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.
On the surface, some people might argue that this sounds very egocentric. After all, Paul is encouraging people to do what he had done. Was Paul implying that he had everything in order? I don’t think he was implying that at all, but I think he was implying that Timothy would remind the people about this is that Paul did that were in Christ. In other words, he was going to be passing along important doctrines which I imagine included teachings on the resurrection as well as how to live as a Christian in the non-Christian world.
More importantly, I think that this emphasizes the importance of the Christian community. We know that Paul had been taught by the apostles, and we know that Timothy had been taught by Paul. It wasn’t like Paul made up a random cult. Rather, there was a sense of community where all of these guys were working to share a consistent message. They were working together rather than creating derivatives.
We can learn from that today. We might have differences of opinion on certain issues, but at the same time, we can have common ground around the essentials of the faith, and we can work together. We do not need to be tiny islands.