(Taken from work on my current doctoral dissertation)
Our first part of Concerns for Un-Biblical Worship centered around the improper perception or perspective of who God is. The second part focuses on the object of our worship no longer being directed toward the God of the Bible but rather on man.
1 Peter 4:11 cautions us that “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Concerning the exegesis of 1 Peter 4:11, the context is in regards to preaching. This is an aspect of the ministry that cannot take away from the attention given toward God. Preaching, spoken by man, must give glory to God through Christ Jesus. The word “oracle” here is logion. “This word refers to God’s written revelation. The ministry of preaching must be confined within the bounds of God’s inspired Scriptures. And this should be done according to the power, ischuos, which God supplies. The supreme aim in preaching is to glorify God through Jesus Christ. When Christ is proclaimed in His power and glory, then God is glorified.”
Many preachers approach the pulpit lacking a sense of reverence and humility, but instead, as if the gift and calling bestowed upon them was of their own volition, preach with the subtext of God, but implicitly (or at times explicitly) claim the power as their own. It becomes a stage to introduce and showcase the wonderful talents, skills, knowledge, and intelligence, masked by the intent of preaching the Word of God for the purpose of the congregation’s edification, when in fact, the preaching is done to excite, motivate, inspire, and direct the emotional appeal of the lay person toward the one preaching, yet done, “all in the name of God.” When the preaching is given so that the attention is directed toward a fallen person, in need of a Savior, as opposed to the God who saves him, it is no longer Biblical.
How often do we come across preachers who bask in the glory they receive from their congregation members after preaching? Unfortunately, there are those who step off of the pulpit looking forward to the admiration given to them by their respective laity. It is what fuels them, inspires, motivates, and encourages them to continue “preaching” to others, as opposed to the sincere desire to bring glory to God by preaching His Word and edifying God’s children.
(Picture taken from http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/thumblarge_314/1222459336H79UV3.jpg)
 Isidro Annotated New Testament, p.454
One of the biggest struggles for me is the thought that I haven’t done enough. Somewhere between my underachieving adolescent high school days and now, I’ve developed into some sort of type-A, insanely active, must-get-things-done-for-the-sake-of-remaining-productive creature of conditioned, ministerial habit. How and when did it change? I have no clue. You can ask my sisters about what their brother was like and how listless and stubborn I was growing up.
But now, I can’t seem to do enough. And, as we all know, the harshest critics always tend to be ourselves. I come down on myself harder than anybody else. This is why I feel I can take people’s criticism and expectations because how I scrutinize myself and what I expect out of what I can do far exceeds anybody else.
But therein is the problem. When I fall short of what I feel was a necessary effort, I come down on myself. Hard. I become disappointed, ashamed, guilty, and convicted of what I did or didn’t do.
Especially when it comes to the Lord’s work.
When I analyze my work and my effort, in retrospect, during some cases I become disappointed in my preparation, my organization, my time management, my work ethic in getting ready for a moment where I can share God’s Word, show God’s love, or be a character witness to others that Jesus Christ is real and that He died for each and every one of us. When I don’t feel like I’ve done enough, it eats me alive inside. It forces me to reconsider my character, my mind set, my schedule, my focus, my priorities in order to give to Him and to others what they rightfully deserve: a full hearted effort of love, time, attention, and all my ability to serve.
This leads to extreme peaks and valleys. I crash, hit rock bottom, disgusted at myself for not giving more in service to God and to others. I wonder… Am I good enough?
When I was 15 years old, I remember walking around after work (yes I was working at that age.. 14 to be exact) and looking up at the sky. I spoke out, praying to God, asking why me? Why has He placed this burden of His ministry on my heart? What is it about me that had Him set me apart from my friends and others my age?
I remember asking Him to just let me go. God, please just let me fail. Just leave me alone to live a life without the pressure that I currently feel. I’m not the person you want. I’m not the person you need. I’m not good enough.
But I’m reminded of 1 John 3:20 that “If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things.” When that little voice in my ear begins to make me doubt my status as a child of God, as His loved one, as someone whom God deemed important enough to send His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sins, I just remind myself that even when my own heart condemns me, God is greater than that.
And as far as me being good enough? I’ll just tell you what God reminded me in His Word:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Picture taken from http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/disappointed.jpg
So… this weekend marked one of the great events for evangelistic outreaches. Harvest Crusade, led by Greg Laurie has been instrumental in leading many people to Christ, and at the same time provided avenues to help disciple new believers into beginning a relationship with our Lord and to develop into a Christ-like maturity. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend, thought I wish I could have. From what I’ve heard, it was an unbelievable event.
What makes me go “Wow… Really?” is not the undisputed God-glorifying event that Harvest Crusade is, but rather the indication by a certain group, professing to be Christians, that urged people not to attend Harvest Crusade, but rather their event. Wow… Really? Is this really our mindset as individuals, Christians, or as a church? Are we competing against other groups, hoping to stave them off from attending a God magnifying, edifying event, filled with praise and worship for God, just in the hopes of building the attendance for our event?
Why? Why in the world would a so-called believer want to serve as a stumbling block unto others just because they want their “ministry” to be more successful than another? Is that our end goal? Is that what we strive for? Have we lost perspective that if people aren’t going to our event that we’d rather not let them go to any other event that will help them grow in their walk and provide opportunities to bring their unsaved friends and loved ones to hear the Gospel?
Possibly, it was a sarcastic comment, meant jokingly. Even so, I’m disgusted at the fact that a believer in Jesus Christ who professes to be defined by love is not loving enough by thwarting any efforts for someone to attend an event like Harvest Crusade in favor of their event in hopes of building their numbers and increasing the number of faces they see in the audience.
Wow… really? I mean.. really? I think somebody needs a ministry check. I’ll save you a seat at next years Harvest Crusade.
Picture taken from http://www.donself.com/images/confused-baby.bmp