Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. The Psalm we read in prayer meeting this morning reminded me, “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect” (Psalm 18:32). Our Father God who is perfect desires His children to be perfect, even though He understood we could not do so by our own strength. That’s why He empowers us daily to approach perfection. Our desire to please God and do His will is the fruit of the His Spirit. By our own nature, we have no appetite to seek godly things. Only when the Spirit of God comes upon us, we desire to listen to His Word and do His Will. Amen?
The people in our congregations are, in fact, out shopping for idols. They enter our churches with the same mind-set in which they go to the shopping mall, to get something that will please them or satisfy an appetite or need. John Calvin saw the human heart as a relentlessly efficient factory for producing idols. Congregations commonly see the pastor as the quality-control engineer in the factory. The moment we accept the position, though, we defect from our vocation. The people who gather in our congregations want help through a difficult time; they want meaning and significance in their ventures. They want God, in a way but certainly not a “jealous God,” not the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Mostly they want to be their own god and stay in control but have ancillary idol assistance for the hard parts, which the pastor can show them how to get. With the development of assembly-line mass production, we are putting these idols out in great quantities and in a variety of colors and shapes to suit every taste. John Calvin’s insight plus Henry Ford’s technology equals North American Religion. Living in golden calf country as we do, it is both easy and attractive to become a successful pastor like Aaron, who gave the kind of god (golden calf) that his congregation wanted [Exodus. 32].
Jesus said, “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character” (Matthew 7:15-16, The Message).
This is a warning especially for us pastors, even though I am not pasturing a congregation right now. How easily we will yield to the pressures or expectations of our congregation who are brain-washed by consumerism and materialism. Our role as preacher is supposed to warn the people of God from the penetration of worldly values. But a lot of time, we yield to the worldly expectations instead. If Christians do not penetrate the world like salt and light of the world, then the worldly mindset or influence will penetrate the church. This is happening in the church of North America and in Europe. The Church lost her influence in society and is constantly shaped and molded by societal values.
When Christians are too busy with life and with programs within the four walls of the church, they really don’t have time to think or discern what is right and wrong in terms of their attitude toward things. They will easily just do whatever the world does and attitude that goes with it. When majority of the congregation adopts the worldly thinking about god or spirituality, they will easily pressure the church to give what they want; otherwise they will withhold their donations or go to another church. Once the church falls into Satan’s scheme to adopt the spirit of competition and desire for success, she will unconsciously build the golden calf for her congregation just like Aaron did for the Israelites.
Have mercy on us O Lord! Satan is all out to destroy the influence of God’s work on earth before its end time arrives. This spiritual battle is real and severe only if church pastors, leaders and congregation are aware of it. Satan will give whatever ‘growth and success’ to lure the church into its scheme. Pray that the church will stand firm in her teaching and commitment to discipleship making – something that will empower the true followers of Christ to lead godly life. Just as Apostle Paul said, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5), we need to restore Christ-like mindset in both pastors and parishioners in our church today - indeed, we need to pray for revival within the Church in North America.
Love you with the attitude of Christ,