Friday, June 18, 2021
I am thrilled to be a pastor, serving my Lord and Savior by boldly proclaiming and living out the Gospel in my life. I am thankful that His grace covers me in all the times when I falter and my choices are tainted with personal ambition and preference. I am thankful for the conviction of the Holy Spirit who trains me to deny myself and take up the cross of Jesus Christ daily. I am thankful for His call on my life, the enabling of His Holy Spirit to answer the call, and the provision of persevering faith to finish the race.
However, I am troubled by an apparent contradiction I see between the people in the churches described in the New Testament and the people in church today. Here’s what bothers me. It all stems from these verses in Galatians 1:22-24.
“And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, ‘He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they glorified God because of me.”
In those New Testament churches, the people glorified God because the Gospel was being preached. They were completely united in a common mission, with no strings attached.
In today’s church I see people attaching strings to the Gospel. Worship music is a string. Leadership style is a string. Even friendships and fellowship are strings. People move from one church to another, many times for the wrong reasons. God is not glorified by such activity. When our personal preferences or past hurts become the determining factor in selection of a place to worship God, then we are not really worshiping God. Instead, we are worshiping the gratification of self. God is not glorified by this.
The glory of God is in the Gospel. Whether preached by a life-long follower of Jesus or a converted convict, the Gospel alone is to be honored. When our preferences for musical worship, for Bible translations, for lifestyle choices, or for relationships carry equal weight with the Gospel in determining our place to serve Jesus Christ, then we are not glorifying God.
I am troubled by what I see and experience in today’s church. I can only imagine what Jesus feels when we claim to worship Him alone, but with strings attached.