So, do you have a favorite ice cream? Out of the dozens upon dozens to choose from, which one do you select most often? For me, it’s butter pecan. 90% of the time. I’ll stretch once in a while, but I do cling to my favorite.
So, do you have a favorite pastor? Out of all the choices in the community or even at church, do you have a favorite that you lean towards, or miss or perhaps even dismiss? I know I do. The pastor I favor preaches and teaches in a way that my head, heart, and soul respond well to. That preacher is my ‘butter pecan.’ Others I can take for a Sunday or a season but honestly, it’s just not the same listening to their messages.
To be honest having a favorite is really nothing new to the faith community. All the way back to the very first Christian faith communities, members of the body of Christ have had their favorite mission pastor. One of the earliest of Paul’s correspondence (1 Corinthians 1:10-17) addresses the ongoing division around favorite leaders. By the very first generation of believers! Paul writes about the latest news (almost gossip) he’s heard, about how the young Christians are aligning themselves behind the pastor they like the most. Some are saying they like Paul (must be Lutheran!), others who like Peter (Catholic perhaps!), still others who claim Christ (Baptists?), and some who really like the eloquent, impressive preacher Apollos (TV evangelist supporters?). It’s been said that Paul himself was not all that impressive either in person (short, balding, big nose) or in preaching (poor delivery and overly direct to the point of offending) yet Paul gets credit for great correspondence and solid theology as his writings make up the majority of our New Testament, shaping our own faith still.
Note that Paul doesn’t deny that faith community their favorites. We still have our own even now. But what Paul does do is to remind them all not to lose sight of being one body, one community of faith. He reminds them that Christ Jesus is central and that the quarrels and divisions growing among and between them are destructive to the gospel message. He never says they have to ‘like’ each other, but they do need to love each other and hold each other in prayer support and respect. And they need to stop gossiping. As to favorites? We all have them. But imagine a world where choices are limited to only chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. Or a church limited like that too! Heaven (and the Gospel) forbid!
—Pastor Kim Latterell
Photo by Dana DeVolk via Unsplash.