Authority, part 2
Some of us remember years ago when George H. W. Bush was running for president and Dan Quayle was his running mate. In the VP debate, Lloyd Bentsen, Quayle’s opponent, at one point made a big deal about how Quayle had compared himself to JFK.
Quayle said, “I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency.” Bentsen replied, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.”
That was a very zippy line that people remember to this day. But frankly, it does not really matter how well Dan Quayle compared with JFK. He is not the standard by which we judge how good or bad a politician is.
Comparing ourselves to others seems to be a standard part of human nature. We judge how well we are doing by comparing ourselves to others. Many today base their value on how they compare to others. Some people dismiss or reject others because they fail to measure up to their own personal standards.
In our passage today, we find that the false teachers in Corinth were comparing themselves to Paul and finding Paul coming up short. He didn’t measure up to their standards. They set their own standards and then praised themselves for measuring up. The problem was that they were measuring by the wrong standard. It was unwise of them to measure themselves by themselves.
The main theme in this passage is authority. The false teachers were denying Paul’s authority over the church, and Paul was asserting his authority. The church had to decide whether it would follow the authority of its founder or of the false teachers who had infiltrated the church.
Likewise today, we need to make sure that we are evaluating and measuring authority within the church by the right standards. Paul is telling us here how not to exercise authority in the context of the local church.