Christian, if you are going to church primarily to get something out of it, then you are going for the wrong reason. If the measure of church is how good or affirmed you come out of a service feeling, then you are not using God’s ruler but rather your own. His ruler measures how much more like Him you have become.
We all do it. We all judge church like we’re at Burger King trying to get it our way. I remember how angry I was when my church decided to move away from the hymnbook to primarily contemporary worship. I wanted it my way. Likewise I’ve watched over the years as people griped and complained over petty issues because they wanted church their way.
Meanwhile there are also scores of examples of church splits over stupid things such as a change in the order of service, or the color of the walls and carpet. There are books describing actual pastors getting fired for daring to introduce small groups to enhance the congregation’s spiritual growth.
What’s the common theme amongst all of these minor, selfish, and petty reasons that people want church their way? Man-centeredness. It’s a disease that’s been spread in recent times by the Seeker Sensitive movement, by some famous “preachers”, by the prosperity gospel, and by some mega-church pastors such as the late Robert Schuller who has stated:
- “Classical theology has erred in its insistence that theology be ‘God-centered,’ not ‘man-centered.’”
Wow! Can you believe the audacity he had to take theology (i.e. The Study of God) and remove the glory away from God and place it on God’s creation?
Sunday we discussed the noble beginnings of the Pharisees which morphed over time into the man-centered group that continually attacked Jesus. They were not interested in spiritual matters and thus did not accept Jesus as their Messiah, even though He was right in front of them performing miracles, and fulfilling Old Testament prophecies.
- “A Pharisee is hard on others and easy on himself, but a spiritual man is easy on others and hard on himself.”—A.W. Tozer
But we refuse to be fleshly and man-centered at Waikoloa Baptist. We will remain committed to the Bible because it’s God’s direct revelation to us. We will remain committed to prayer because it is how we communicate to Him. We will worship Him and Him alone because He alone is God. We will proclaim salvation in Jesus Christ alone to the world around us, in obedience to His Great Commission and out of love for our lost community. We will press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus no matter what it costs us.
And we come back to the main reason for this: Jesus. We are here to point people to Jesus. And, since Jesus is the Head of the church, we seek to glorify Him in all things, and to promote Him at all times. I have never received a call yet from Him asking me my opinion or input, and quite frankly I am sure He doesn’t care at all about my feelings. Oh, I have made the mistake of wanting church my way, and of attempting to do things my way, but He always seems to nip it in the bud and wake me up the realization that church is about Him.
Jesus is right in front of us, and our only job is to keep everything focused on Him. When people ask why we do what we do (just as they did with John the Baptist), we tell them we do it for the glory of our Lord. If they complain to us that they don’t like the message of the Bible that we teach and preach, we just tell them that it’s not our message but His. We are simply to point people to Jesus.
- No one likes to think that he is man-centered in his Christianity, but we all do it and we all must catch it and dismantle it. Think of some areas where you have failed to have a Christ-centered, spiritual walk: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Confess these now.
- It can be easy to become repetitious or legalistic in our Christian walk and to miss out on the fact that it’s not about us but about Jesus. Does your life tell others “I am a Christian”, and do they understand that to mean “I follow Jesus”? Do they see Him and not you? ___________________________________________________________
- If not, then what can you do to correct this flaw? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- My Dad tells the story of his days as a church usher when this older lady (he guessed she was in her 80s at the time) would come into service. If the pastor was out of town and someone else was filling in, she would immediately turn around and leave the church.
- Have you ever caught yourself following people rather than Jesus? _________________________________________________________
- Why do you think this lady was in church if she only wanted to hear the Senior Pastor and no one else? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Why do people flock to hear the refined, professional, and dynamic speakers at conferences and churches? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Evaluate your life today and determine who you are really seeking, and who you are really serving. Pray for God to remove any false idols that have replaced Him in your spiritual pursuits. Confess to Him how you have tried to take the glory, honor, and praise unto yourself.
- Joshua 24:15 “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”