I was recently reading I Thessalonians and compared what Paul saw in the church in Thessalonica to our modern churches. And sadly, our modern churches are lacking considerably. Many churches are lacking the influence and power of the Holy Spirit. If one church became so godly, so Spirit-filled they could have a spiritual influence on all of the churches that surround it. Paul told the church in Thessalonica, “you became a model to all the believers” and “your faith in God has become known everywhere”!
Let’s bring it down to individual believers. We can we become so Spirit filled, walking with God, learning to worship, living so clean and so separated that everybody we meet knows it. This is possible you know? There is no reason we couldn’t be so filled with the Spirit, so joyfully singing His praises and living so clean in our business’ and homes and schools that everyone we meet would know it and recognize it and have a desire to follow it!
The problem is, some churches do grow to this status, but sadly, they become so proud of themselves, they become isolationists, closed to outsiders and very self-righteous and judgmental. Okay, so how do they avoid this? Easy, since the problem generally lies on the shoulders of the leadership, they must remain humble, contrite and teachable — open to the Holy Spirit’s correction. But does that happen? Not often enough. Instead, the pastor makes a “name” for himself. The people brag about their pastor as being the “cat’s meow,” they refer to him as Pastor “His Most Excellency,” and he can never be addressed by his first name, but rather Pastor Do-Dad, or “Bishop” So-and-So. Hey look, your titles mean nothing in our God’s Kingdom, so you better get off your high horse, because He is not willing to share the esteem.
I am reminded of something Isaiah said,
“I’ll go up to heaven and set up my throne above El’s stars.
I’ll sit on the mountain far away in the north
where the gods assemble.
I’ll go above the top of the clouds.
I’ll be like The Most High.”
But you’ve been brought down to Sheol,
to the deepest part of the pit..” (Isaiah 14:13-15)
Yeah, yeah. I realize these were the words of Satan. He wanted to exalt himself. And yes, in Satan’s eyes, it was time for God to “move over” because, like George Jefferson, Satan was “moving on up” the ladder. (Many standing ovations please, and lots of wild applause!!) The Great Satan is coming to make his appearance. No one had better disagree with him. If they do, then Satan will have them “dealt with.”
No, I was not there when Satan rebelled against Yahweh. Nevertheless, we can find this same attitude among many so-called fundamentalist preachers today. We know it as “Pride.” And pride precedes a great fall, because it is an attitude that considers what God says as irrelevant. No, they are “It.” God’s man of the hour and what they say is all that matters. Heaven: open your gates wide. The Preacher is coming!
I realize I am being facetious, sort of, but I may be proved prescient. If you have spent any time watching the TV “evangelists,” and “Pastors,” you would have seen this. There is no doubt that there really are some proud, arrogant preachers out there — preachers who very much display the very heart-attitude of Satan. These preachers want to exalt themselves “above the heights of the clouds.” They look down their “heavenly noses” on other “mere mortal” preachers and those measly little “laity” people down in the pews.
In their eyes, they are like dumb animals, because he, after all, is the Great Preacher. They must never be allowed to think for themselves. No, the Great Preacher must make all of their decisions for them. These decisions include, (but are not limited to), financial decisions; whom to marry; what car to buy, any purchase that “the people” may make of over $1,000; where to live; with whom to live; and so on, and so forth. No, they are just dumb laity people and he is the Great Preacher. (Many, many more wild standing ovations, with thunderous applause, please!). But then again, the people in the church help to build this attitude by bragging about how “grand” their pastor is.
Now, consider what Paul wrote to the church in Rome:
Because of the kindness that God has shown me, I ask you not to think of yourselves [or your leaders] more highly than you should. Instead, your thoughts should lead you to use good judgment based on what God has given each of you as believers (Romans 12:3)
Sounds reasonable. And it sure makes sense to me. But yeah, I confess that I was just watching one of the many examples on TV again. But you probably knew that. I will be honest, I am very wary of any “Mega” Church. It is not the size of your church that impresses me, but rather how many disciples of Christ you are producing. I truly wonder if they are truly making disciples or gathering victims to fill their coffers. Sorry, but I couldn’t help it.
Look, are you a pastor? Are you guilty of this great sin of pride? Are you able to stand before our God and say you are innocent? Or, are you guilty of trying to exalt yourself above the other servants of Christ? Are “your people” (the members of your church) the servants of Christ or of you? Please, examine your heart!
Oh Father, our church will probably never be an example of great success or size, such as the ones usually held up as models. But please, allow us to be a model of godliness, Spirit-filled, victorious, joyful, and full of worship. And if you agree, shout “Amen!“
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