Ministry: For Our Convenience or God's Glory
by Kevin Probst
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Micah was unable to worship in Jerusalem so he built a shrine in the hill country of Ephraim. His mother assisted him in purchasing a graven image made of silver by the local silver smith. Micah installed one of his sons as priest of his shrine and in those days Israel had no ruler and the people did what was right in their own eyes. (1)
A young man from Bethlehem, from the tribe of Levi, was traveling through the area and he came upon Micah's house and Micah asked him, "Where are you from?" The Levite said, "I am from Bethlehem and I'm looking for a place to stay." (2) Micah then made him an offer he couldn't refuse: "Live with me and be my priest and I'll give you ten shekels of silver a year and I'll clothe you and feed you."
Some time later the Danites would invade the land of Laish, home of Micah. They stole the silver images and ravaged his temple and asked the Levite priest to leave Micah and come with them. "Isn't it better that you serve a tribe rather than one man's household." (3) These words brought gladness to the heart of the priest and he followed them with enthusiasm.
Paris Reidhead addresses the issue of utilitarian religion and expedient Christianity in his sermon, Ten Shekels and a Shirt. (4) Utilitarianism is defined as an ethical theory that holds to the idea that the proper course of action is always the one that maximizes one's overall 'happiness' . The morality of any action is determined by the consequences of that action, the resulting outcome. (5) In expedient Christianity the end becomes more important than the means to achieving that end.
Were we to apply this pragmatic standard to the ministries of some of the Bible's greatest men they would be judged to be men who had failed miserably. John the Baptist was able to conjure up a few disciples but it seems he was lacking in the skills of diplomacy. Rather than stay on the side of political correctness, he spoke truth to the king and he lost his head as a result. By today's standards he was a failure.
Noah was a great builder of boats. He built a vessel that endured the greatest flood in world history but as an evangelist, as a soul winner, he might be considered an utter failure. When the rains came and the earth filled with water he had only convinced seven people, his own family, to follow God. A hundred years of labor, a magnificent boat and seven converts…he would be categorized as a colossal failure in the mega-church mentality of the modern world.
The definition of success has changed down through the ages. The modern church has been infected by the philosophies of the culture. God-centered doctrines like salvation and eternal destiny have been replaced by man-centered beliefs in political correctness, self-esteem and acquired prosperity. Modern ministers have been distracted from the truth by the philosophies of humanism. These cancerous beliefs have been inching their way through the church for over 150 years until we now no longer question them, but willfully embrace them.
Humanists believe that the chief end of all being is the happiness of man. Achieving that goal is justified no matter what means are required to get there. If power is what makes you happy then by all means, strive for power, even if it means stepping on some and wounding others to achieve your goal. Hitler believed that happiness would only come to men through a pure race. He justified his racism and his murder as an ugly necessity to reach a worthy means: the happiness of man.
Humanism has so saturated our culture that we have become sex-crazed. The idea that the primary reason for living is to satisfy ourselves has led to an over-indulgence in sexual experiences. Salvation no longer has anything to do with the soul but everything to do with the fulfillment of our sensual desires.
Humanism has education has become a shell game. It is no longer subject-centered. It is now child-centered. The Three R's have been cast aside in favor of ensuring the happiness of the child. Failing grades are no longer distributed to those who are slack in their preparation for fear of wounding their self-esteem. Subject matter is being scrapped in favor of allowing the pupils to find themselves. The question is no longer "Is the child learning?" The question now is "Is the child happy?"
If the goal of the environmentalist is to create an environment that will contribute to the happiness of man they will go to any means to achieve that goal. They will suppress the poor, they will destroy national economies and they will become violent if necessary.
Even murder is condoned if it will lead to the happiness of man. The life of an unborn infant is expendable if it causes inconvenience or threatens the happiness of the mother. It is a sad state of affairs when our minds are so warped as to believe that our own happiness has more value than the life of another.
So many modern day ministers propagate the humanist philosophy by declaring that God is primarily concerned with the happiness of man. This teaching borders on blasphemy. How dare we elevate ourselves to a level of such importance! This violates the spirit of John who said, "He (Jesus) must become greater and greater and I must become less and less." (6) Our earthly happiness is a by-product of a saving relationship with God. The primary goal of a Christian is not his own self-serving goal of happiness. Rather, it is to bring glory to God.
The Levite was more interested in utilitarian Christianity. How much will I get paid and what benefits are available to me? When the Danites came along with a better deal, the Levite was only too eager to graze on greener grass. His concern was, "What is in it for me?" How rare is the man who will ask, "In what way might I best bring glory to God?"
Paul wrote to the Romans, "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator…" (7) The truth is that the chief end of man is to bring glory to the God who created him. The lie that has replaced this truth is that the chief end of man is his own happiness. Truth happiness can never be found when in pursuit of a lie.
1. Judges 17:5
2. Judges 17:9
3. Judges 18:19
6. John 3:30
7. Romans 1:25
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