Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hero Boycott, Part 2

What a lively discussion! Hooray! (See comments below yesterday's blog.)

I think we come at this from our longings for the sons of God. And shouldn’t it be that way? From my earliest days in ministry I have noticed and been grieved that much of the church has accepted and adopted a style of ministry that is more about appearance and accomplishment than it is about Spirit-filled and Spirit-led life and the results that come from Him. The former is a Simon the Sorcerer sort of approach to ministry.

While Paul’s ministry was enabled after, as he put it, God “. . .was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the gentiles,. . .” (Gal 1:15,16; italics mine), Simon the Sorcerer wanted the authority and effect of the Spirit apart from an enabling and transforming work of God. There is so much that is missed without that work of God—and that’s what bothers me. I want the sons and daughters of God to have what Paul had—a revelation or working of God in them that becomes the “so that” of their life. I believe He wants this working for them, too.

If “copying” another persons’ ministry means becoming a sort of knockoff—having the appearance but lacking the power thereof—then I am opposed to it. If, however, “copying” is about watching and listening to someone filled by the Spirit and in His authority, so as to yearn to know God who enables the outworking of the vessel, then I’m all for it.

I remember listening to Dick Eastman talk about the love of God he so enjoyed through prayer that I teared-up and said aloud, “Oh, Lord; I want to know you and love you like that man does.” That “I want what he has” served me well as I described to God the yearning He had revealed in my heart. I fed it back to Him, and He worked it out. In this way, “imitation” or “copy” is an excellent word. To have pretended that I actually knew all about it before He had worked it, would have been, well, unfortunate. While the apostle Paul had no one to imitate on his road to transformation, most of us benefit greatly by the likes of Eastman and many others.

I don’t want the copy, I don’t want the appearance, I want Him who lives and works in me. And that’s what motivates and frames my ministry. I regularly describe (as vividly as I can) how God works with me and in me in light of the many biblical passages that bring this to light. I’ve written extensively about it in my book, and I know there are many who use me and my writings as a sort of guide to knowing God, and how to cooperate with Him through their days. They’re not trying to be me, but they like how I set them up to grow and be themselves.

However, too often Christians have been commanded to an appearance that goes along with a prescribed style of ministry without the heart for it. While Simon the Sorcerer’s offering was monetary, today ours is slavish obedience to whoever the commanding pattern-setter is. When we attempt the form without the life, frustration and failure is imminent. It must be. And that’s where I meet many people today. They’ve had little in the way of Paul—Christ in them revealed so that—and have failed in the way of Simon the Sorcerer.

I certainly agree with Mike that what we have is a failure of godly leadership; the many burned-out and frustrated believers attest to this. Perhaps we can re-define and reclaim the word “copy” so it has the original biblical intent. That will take some doing, however, because in my estimation, the “knockoff” or “pretend to be” definition is so dominant. Maybe that’s Mike’s job. God-speed.

Until then—May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:59 PM

    Along the same lines...I was reading today in "Pagan Christianity" about pragmatism. Viola says, "Pragmatism is the philosophy that teaches that if something works, it should be embraced regardless of ethical considerations...Pragmatism is unspiritual, not just because it encourages ethical considerations to be secondary, but because it depends on techniques rather than on God to produce the desired effects Genuine spirituality is marked by the realization that in spiritual things, we mortals are utterly and completely dependent on the Lord" (2008, pp 67-68). Copying or going through the motions can become religion in and of itself...the ritual becomes substitution for authentic fellowship with Jesus. Like you said though, if by witnessing authenticity of relationship deepens the desire and longing within the individual~ then so be it!
    Good post!