The following is a continuation of a two-part article, read Part 1 here.
6. When people replace practical living with mystical practice
There are some leaders I have heard teach who actually think that they can set up righteous governments on the earth merely by making declarations of faith as the “ecclesia of God”.
I am all for prayer and intersession and believe that it is the most important arena to win the battle (since we fight not against flesh and blood as it says in Ephesians 6:12); however, praying alone without voting or nurturing leaders to stand in the gates of societal leadership is mere mysticism. This negates all the passages in the bible that speak of the believer working for justice, righteousness, and fighting oppression. (To name a few, see the book of Proverbs, Amos, and passages like Isaiah 58.)
7. When people minister out of their “false self”
More often than we want to admit – we are all unconsciously ministering for God out of undealt with, un-surrendered, and broken areas of our soul that deceive us. This all deceives us into thinking that what we are doing in ministry is for God’s glory, when truthfully it is for our name, recognition, and done to alleviate inner feelings of insecurity and failure.
Only when we allow the Word of God to separate soul and spirit under His blazing light can our blind spots be penetrated and we can be changed into His image and likeness (see 2 Corinthians 3:18; Hebrews 4 :12,13).
8. When people are motivated to do great things to satisfy their ambition
It is very possible that many of the most impressive ministries we have witnessed in our life has been motivated more by the ambition of the minister than by a true leading of the Lord or for His glory. This would explain why some leaders and or ministries do not survive or thrive during periods of testing and attack. (See 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.) Unless the Lord builds the house -those who labor work in vain (Psalm 127).
9. When people hide behind church (ecclesial) titles as an ego booster
When I was consecrated as a bishop in 2006 many people came up to me congratulating me for my “elevation”! I was shocked when people said this because I sensed that I was being brought lower in the Kingdom as a servant of Christ (read John 13) not “elevated”. I never viewed it in the same way a corporation would promote a person and give them a higher rank in a company. This illustrated to me how many people actually see ecclesial titles as an ego booster as part of some religious, hierarchical pecking order! (Of course, I do not believe every bishop has this wrong assumption; there are many sincere bishops and pastors I know who have integrity and humility and serve God for His Kingdom sake.)
When a person longs for a position or title in the church they may be attempting to use the things of God to boost their ego instead of advancing His kingdom and glory.
10. When people constantly judge others
When you read some of the posts on social media and see Christians acerbically fighting each other in public you have wonder whose spirit they are emanating?
When a person comes to Christ, if their false-self related to pride, anger, bitterness, ego, and self-righteousness is not dealt with – they can easily fall into the trap of thinking their judgmental spirit is being used in service to God (See John 16:2).
As a Christian, it is possible to espouse biblical moral and social values while not allowing God to transform your inner life related to agape love, brokenness, empathy, mercy, kindness and humility. (See the Sermon on the Mount for the Jesus ethos for social, cultural, and relational engagement, especially Matthew 5:1-16.)
A case in point – when Lauren Daigle appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show she was castigated in public by many so-called Christians. I was disheartened when I saw this since it exposed the fact that religious, fundamentalist legalism is still rampant in the world! Why wouldn’t she want to appear on a show to sing songs about Jesus in front of millions of unchurched people? As a matter of fact, I would rather be on Ellen’s show than on TBN, God TV or Day Star or any other Christian show since it would give me an amazing opportunity to connect millions of non-Christians to the Jesus I know and love.
If Ellen asked Jesus to appear on her show (if hypothetically Jesus’s first Advent was in our current time instead of 2000 years ago) I am sure He would have had no biblical objection since He regularly ate and fellowshipped with those not identified as righteous by the religious standards of His day – as a matter of fact Scripture says that he ate and drank with sinners (See Luke 7:34).
Unfortunately, many who castigated Lauren justified their rants by hiding behind God and His Word (which is worse than merely giving an honest opinion). Conversely, by being present in the world with those who don’t know Christ, we are able to incarnate the love and person of Jesus to people without losing our identity or condoning their lifestyle.
In closing, my prayer is that those who read this will have more discernment and understand that it is possible to use the things of God related to His Word, church, and behavior- to justify ungodly unbiblical behavior.
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