Tower building is a problem in churches. For decades now the church growth movement helped fuel the drive to build a kingdom on earth. Men would fill pulpits and proudly proclaim that they built their churches by the sweat of their brow. I’ve listened to some of these blowhards, baffled that they could fit, “Praise the Lord” or “Amen” into their sentences so suavely. Many of them considered sheep stealing (from other churches) as growing God’s Kingdom, believe it or not. One church I attended had a nicely produced 3-ring binder at the end of each pew. Inside were pictures of the church staff and a proud proclamation that they were one of the fastest growing churches in America (they were not, but that was their boastful claim, as if people would be attracted to such a lack of humility).
What I come back to is that every church, every pastor, every Christian must do things God’s way and for God’s glory. He will not share the glory, and He will not bless us (I’m talking true, spiritual blessing) if we build our own kingdoms.
Think about this:
- Genesis 8:17 & 9:1 God tells humanity to spread out on the earth, to fill it.
- Genesis 11:4 humanity disobediently unites and is afraid to spread out on the earth.
- Matthew 28:18-20 & Acts 1:8 Jesus tells us to be witnesses throughout the whole world.
- A.D. 70 The church in Jerusalem grew and grew, but had not expanded much past their own city. Titus Vespasian comes to Jerusalem and levels it, wiping out the temple, and ultimately dispersing thousands upon thousands of Christians who had stayed put.
- A.D. 2019 We are dispersed into Waikoloa, coming from different walks of life, from different parts of the world, and having different cultural backgrounds. God has you and me here unified by our common faith in Jesus, for the common work of reaching our community with the Gospel. What are you doing to play your part on the team?
My goal is to be faithful to what God has entrusted to me. I am not here to build a name for myself, to have a steeple named after me, or to receive accolades from the church or community. I am here to teach the truth of God’s Word, the narrow and exclusive Gospel, and an eternal judgment for those who refuse to bow the knee to Jesus Christ.
Each of you should have the same exact goal because the Great Commission is for all of us. It’s really a “get on God’s program or jump off” sorta mentality, but then again, that’s how Jesus interacted with followers Himself. He’d question their sincerity. He’d tell them that following Him was hard work and would lead to persecution, even death. He’d tell them that they would be hated, rejected, and ostracized for the Gospel. He told them that the road is narrow and hard. He said they’d have to put their families behind them. He never in any way promised that the Christian life would be a Rose Garden, and the result?
- John 6:66-69 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
God doesn’t call us build a big church. In fact, David Platt, referring to the above passage (in his book Radical), notes that what Jesus did goes against our church growth training. Jesus didn’t want a large church, He wants a pure and dedicated church that will follow Him no matter what.
Teamwork is not about the star quarterback—it’s about the team. Teamwork is not about doing your own thing, running your own plays. You must run the plays the coach sends your way, the way he says they’re to be done. You must follow. If anything ruins a football game it’s the star players who deviate from the game plan and fail to score. Next to that, those who bask in the glory of their on-field achievements, dancing around, showing off, and seeking the praise of the fans to help swell their egos up until their heads are about ready to pop also ruin a game.
So, I come back to where I started. The work that you and I do should be to further God’s Kingdom regardless of whether we receive any earthly recognition. God will reward you and me for serving Him humbly, because if we do it for the praise of men, Jesus says we will have received all the reward we will get (Matthew 6:1 “otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”). We are not building a great big rebellious tower here in Waikoloa for the praises of men. We are not unifying and standing strong in the midst of our own power. We are working together as a team, and using a poor analogy, we are following the game plan laid out by our Head Coach, Jesus. When a touchdown occurs, it’s because Jesus called the play, we obeyed but he made it happen. When the game is won, it’s because Jesus won it. My name is “Christian”, my leader is “Jesus”. What else is there?
- Humility is not a virtue in our culture. Why do you think this is? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- When you are truly humble and not drawing attention to yourself, who then is getting the attention? ________________________________
- When you fight for your rights, proclaim your worth, and beg for recognition, who is getting the attention? _______________________
- Dig deeply into your heart. When you serve God, from cleaning the church to teaching to singing in the praise band, to helping with ministries, or any other task, are you doing it:
- To further Christ’s Kingdom? ___________________________
- Or to be seen and recognized by others? ___________________
- To close out this week, let’s each pray for deep humility, and confess any areas of pride that get in the way of exalting Jesus in our lives and His church. I know that I am a prideful person, and I’m guessing if each of us are, then each of us need to spend time in prayer.
- Couple this prayer with a request that God will use us mightily to show forth His glory and great salvation, that people will see the Christ in us, and that His Kingdom may be expanded.