October 23, 2015

Tools In The Toolbox V: Church Host or Church Parasite?

The fifth in a continuing series about things a person of God can add to their relational repertoire to properly help themselves and others in the church.

The question in business and other organizations is often asked this way: Are you a giver or are you a taker? Everyone knows that there are some who exist solely to be parasitic. They are there only to leech off of the system. There are parasites...but then there are hosts also. Conversely, there are the opposite. There are those who are there to give of themselves and are critical to the support of an organization. They make it work. That is what we deal with in the post today.

How many of them are actively involved in service, and how many are “ecclesiastical consumers”?

This is a peculiar pair of questions. Why would active service to a church be important if our belief system is not a religion of works? Why would it matter if people are just shopping around for a church that suits them? The answer lies in the question I just asked. Why would it matter if someone shops around for a church that suits them? This question centers on the consumer. It makes what the consumer wants the most important thing. It makes the person that should be worshiping the center of self-worship. Churches and “ecclesiastical” environments run and function best on those that do not focus primarily on self. They function best when those in the service of the Body are looking towards others.

It’s about giving service, not receiving it. If one is focused on what the Church best does for them…they have totally missed the underlying point of even going to the church (or any church for that matter). I believe this is why Paul Tripp has posed this question. When we are focused on others we are facing the very people Christ called us to Christianity for. Those that are either in need or are totally lost.  By facing others with the truth we offer a fighting chance in an otherwise insurmountable spiritual war. By going to others with the Gospel we give them hope. If we turn inward and focus on ourselves we often get caught or lost in our own miseries.

It is much too easy when we’re too tuned into ourselves to see trivial things in our lives and blow them out of proportion. We make mountains out of molehills and instead of worrying about the immediate necessary concerns we focus on a myriad of things that don’t matter. We end up seeing the extraneous nonsense instead of seeing the needs of those that are desperate. The ones to whom our attention would make the most sense. When we center on others we are not giving ourselves time to dwell on our own issues and that is often a good thing.

These are wise words not just for young or new pastors. These are words for all Christians. To show immediate concern for others over ourselves we best show our love for those people. To show an immediate concern for what we want shows people that we are myopic and selfish. Self-serving and self-aggrandizing people is exactly what is wrong not only in the church but society at-large. Call it what you will, it’s annoying as all get-out. You see it in the people who insist on making private cellphone conversations public. I could care less about your shopping trip to the Promenade and the Outlets and the great deals you got on clothes and jewelry. The pretentiousness is fatigue inducing. It shows that most often people want a Lord that will grant salvation but not a Lord that rules in their lives. We desire a Lord that does something for us but not One that we should to do something for.

We see it in the media whores and notoriety pimps who constantly feel the need to put their face in front of a camera. Always hustling to angle for another attention-grabbing stunt. What’s worse is there are plenty of these types right within the Body of Christ. I would normally say that it is best just to ignore these types of people and the problem solves itself but in the church this is the worst thing to do. You don’t want this notoriety in the church with this type of sin. It is way too reminiscent of the disrepute and dishonor brought upon the Corinthian church when there were reports of immorality (1 Corinthians 5) that not even pagans tolerated and at the root of all of their sins…a deep seated arrogance (1 Corinthians 4:18).

In Corinth we get at the heart of what Paul Tripp is asking. Is your arrogance trumping your commonsense? Is what you think is most important, the most important thing? Are you making what you think is most important the paramount deciding factor in your piety and Christian behavior? If so…you have effectively made yourself and your needs an idol that are flaunting themselves in God’s face. You have effectively placed yourself directly outside of God’s will. Thumbing you nose at God. 

Bad idea.

A bad place for anyone to be, especially a Christian.

God calls us to Himself. God calls us to our calling. God calls us to His Church. The actual ministry He calls us into is also at His discretion. It would be a substantial indiscretion to ignore the possibility that the Lord wants us in places we don’t wish to be. As a matter of fact, it will often be in places we hate or are the most uncomfortable in that we will often find God’s will. Said another way, God don’t always want us happy. Happy does not equate to righteousness. A better indicator of one’s status in God’s eyes is often the level to which we stoop to serve others. That’s because in submitting ourselves to service we best emulate and have the mind of Christ. We therefore become a carbon-copy of Jesus who Himself was non-descript in human form.

Isaiah 53:2-3 ~ “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

When emulating and serving others, we in reality are serving Christ. In serving Him we are obeying Him. Therein lies our righteousness. It is us residing in Him. Righteousness therefore salvation is in Him. Our service is just an outcropping of the fruit of said relationship. Lower is better. Lower is the mind of God. Humility is pleasing to God. Exalting and our lifting up is God’s job, not ours. It is better we remain humble and ready to serve rather than lofty and useless. The higher you strive the farther the fall to the ground when you fail. If you have always kept our feet planted firmly on the ground, the probabilities of crashing and burning are greatly diminished.

In the end it looks like this: Those that minister out of or for the desire of their own hearts, are ministers of the Devil, nothing more.

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