Christianity the Consumer Product (Part III): Sold Out For Jesus (TCM)
I asked a question at the beginning of the last post, a question that continues to resonate within me as I write this post almost 2 weeks later. That question was, “When did Jesus stop being enough?” We have need now to draw people into worship, into community, into the event that is “church” and in the midst of it all, who is glorified, who is the focus? Many churches making decision based on what is trendy or new or cutting edge such places generally place their own image or “church” ahead of the person of Jesus. The longer I work within ministry, the more I am beginning to see this as normative. The work of Christ building His Church comes to the credit of the church leadership, the method used, or the church as an organization altogether. Questions regarding faithfulness are no longer asked, but success is. Being a person who has looked for full-time ministry for almost 4 years now I can tell you that it isn’t easy, especially if you are a person committed to faithfulness and not a person committed to success (the two are not synonymous terms).
This is where we are my fellow Christians, we are looking for men whose focus not in being faithful to the gospel but in putting butts in seats and creating 5 year action plans. It’s about reading the latest ministry book and putting its contents into practice, even if those contents are categorically unfounded within Scripture. I need to make a confession, in all of my education I have only read 3 ministry books, just three. This makes most pastors or pastoral search committee’s jaws drop. I am painfully aware that because of this many churches have gone by a different route, looking for someone who is “more practical” or will “get” results. There was a time I was bitter about this, upset even, but not anymore. The reason that this is done so frequently is not because I am not called (which has been an honest thought in my head) but it is because bad theology is so pervasive that it is very near impossible to acquire a pastorate without already having an in or without being a person willing to prostitute themselves after measurable results rather than preach and teach God’s truth to people in a loving, merciful, humble manner. If this is troubling to you, then good, because it is troubling to me.
Selling Jesus out for a method, or for some kind of results or fame are not indicative of faithful teaching and ministry. It is an indication of a poison that has taken root and begun to naw away the very foundation of Christian faith. We have become dependent on our own ideas and methods for too long. We have been dependent on our music, and lights, and engaging speakers or novel projects for far too long. We are called in Christ to give all that we are to the person of Christ having complete bought into his vision and mission for His Church. He said such things when speaking, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 16:25); and “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). Paul states, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”; and “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).
This dying to self is not a physical dying (at least not in these contexts) but a dying to our own wants, and desires. This means that carpet color, worship style, and method have absolutely nothing to do with whether a church is being faithful to the call of God. But notice here, in some of these verses (most notably Matt. 16:25 and Phil. 1:21) the context does seem to indicate that a physical death may be required of us, and that we should be ready to give all of ourselves. This is what it means to be sold out for Jesus. People are not to be drawn to the church because it is entertaining, or because people “like” it. But they should be drawn to Christian faith by seeing Jesus in each of us. They should be drawn by the aroma of God, His people (2 Cor. 2:15) by their love for one another and for fallen people in general. They should be drawn to the person of Jesus, not to the pastor, or the church, or the programs, but to the person of Jesus. So I leave you with this new question. Are you sold out for Jesus, or are you selling Jesus out? Peace and blessings and as always thank you for reading.