I bumped into some two friends in church recently who shared with me some disturbing claims. They both serve in one of the ministries in church, and both are single and attractive young women. Among the many things we shared, all the while standing, we spent the most time talking about a trend they have come to find extremely upsetting.
Many people, they said, have enrolled with the various ministries in church and after only a few days or weeks backed out. For the longest time they, together with other dedicated ministry members, wondered why. It’s only much later after a couple more rude ‘lefts’ that they came to find out it all had to do with a very flawed, in fact ungodly motivation which, to my dismay they have come to accept as a norm.
The motivation, as they confessed, is a pursuit for a romantic relationship with a ministry member. Apparently, cases of men especially joining ministries because they liked some girl who is a member of the same ministry have become all too common in church. In the words of my two friends, many out there think of our church as fishing ground.
Some pursue subtly and when discovered or rejected, quietly walk away but others blatantly and disrespectfully; they made me understand.
Such a discovery, though very sad, is unsurprising. Mega churches are prone to so much. The screening gadgets guards use at the entrance may isolate a few harmful materials like explosives, but many evil intentions still do walk into church every Sunday unnoticed. The chaff that sits among wheat each Sunday seeking whom to prey is certainly numerous.
Believers have lost property, offering baskets have disappeared mysteriously, and hearts have been taken advantage of. All such wickedness must be condemned, but not without us picking our lessons from the unfortunate experiences.
A wake up call
It just might be that God is allowing for such to happen to wake up His bride. I find myself wondering if the same boldness that a thief has while stealing from church he would even master half as much if dared to steal from a renowned witch doctor.
It seems there is a power that lacks in our congregations today, and the sinful world knows as much. Signs and wonders were meant to accompany our message (Mark 16:17-18), both in the remotest of mission fields and in the grandest of pulpits in the city alike.
Perhaps the message preached today focuses a lot more on the needs of man than on the person and power of Christ. Relationships for example have become a greater subject than evangelism which is at the heart of God. Our needs seem more urgent than God’s purposes.
The Lord might just be beckoning us back to preaching the true Gospel that is evidenced by the workings of His Holy Spirit. I wonder if sinners would have ever felt comfortable in the midst of the early church brethren as they do in the church today. God’s holiness was made manifest when a ‘simple’ lie led to death (Acts 5:1-11), and His grace was made available to many who genuinely repented of their sins – Acts 2.
Some of the moments I’ve enjoyed most in church have been those times the Word preached felt sharper than a double edged sword – Hebrews 4:12. It would always be a mix of discomfort and joy. The Holy Spirit’s presence was confirmed by an evident conviction in our hearts in regard to sin, righteousness and judgment – John 16:8. Many now believe and have been added to our number – Acts 2:47.
I am proud that the new vision our leadership has chosen for the church is ‘A Christ-centered cathedral’. I believe that the more we exalt Christ and focus less on man both in our teachings and activities, the power of that amazing grace that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4) will catch up with even the vilest of sinners in our midst.
We are not a perfect congregation, but the effort given by the clergy and leadership in overcoming the false health and wealth gospel is something I celebrate.
If we were to exalt material possessions in our sermons and prayers for example, then sad to say, we would be affirming the intentions of the thief in our midst. Isn’t he also after wealth just as we are? He would be so much a bird of a feather among us even though we profess Christ and he doesn’t. Our pursuits would be the same, only the methods would be different.
The other factor that might be stifling the move of the Holy Spirit in our churches might be a lacking authenticity in our fellowships. Even if the servants of God all rightly divided the Word (2 Timothy 2:15), or God replaced them with angels, and yet we had no genuine love, there would still be a lacking divine power among us.
The unity and love among believers is meant to be the irrefutable proof that we belong to Christ – John 13:34-35. When we genuinely love each other, He is lifted and He draws men to Himself (John 12:32); however skewed their intentions for coming to church may be. But when unrighteousness of every kind exists among us, many which we excuse because ‘we are human anyway’, we weaken the power of our witness.
We lose both the moral authority to condemn the sin that is obvious to the eye, and the spiritual power to convict the evil intentions hidden from our sight.
Recently when I lost my bag with some of my belongings in church, I wondered what audacity someone would have to steal while in church; in the presence of God! My answer came swiftly; the same audacity I have to slander a brother, to look lowly on a sister, and to withhold kindness from another I had the ability to help.
I am worse, because I don’t only do such in church, in God’s presence, but more depressingly despite the fact that I am His child!
Shame on me
Shamed be the thief yes, and shamed be the brother who joins ministry with selfish motives yes, but worse shamed be I, the hypocrite. I am worth shaming when the very treatment I loathe if men gave to me I give to Christ.
The same disgust we feel towards the man who uses ministry to his selfish advantage rather than give himself to be used of God in the ministry should guide our reverence for God. We should hate ourselves if we only come to Him for the job, for the spouse, for the health; exactly like those Jews whom Jesus called out for following Him simply because He had given them food (John 6:26).
We should loathe ourselves if we welcome the promise “Come unto me, all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28) as directed to us, and dismiss the command “go, make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) as a calling for some.
We should despise ourselves if we don’t treasure Christ above all else. We are all worthy of shame; but the sweet truth is that we can all become worthy of Jesus. The many good things He gives us don’t make us worthy of Him. It is the many good things we are willing to give up for Him that make us worthy of Him – Matthew 9:37-39.
So here is my two pence worth of counsel in closing: manning our churches with more security is good, placing more stringent requirements before people can join ministries is okay, but nothing will effect change more than we who believe simply becoming godlier people.