Jump Start # 2302
Galatians 1:10 “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”
This great declaration by Paul is something that we need to remind ourselves about, especially those that preach. Sunday morning in the pulpit is not “the show.” Preachers are not performers. The success of what we do isn’t based upon the compliments and praises of the Sunday audience. We are not rock stars. We are preachers of the Gospel of Jesus.
As Paul was reminding the Galatians of his commitment to Christ, he left behind the ladder-climbing, ambition of pleasing people. If he was after all that, he certainly wouldn’t be doing what he was. Christianity wasn’t popular. It wasn’t then and it’s not now. At least not in the purest form, as Christ wants us to follow. Sin has always been in. Sin is always popular. Selfishness follows at a close second. And, neither one of these has any place in the heart of a Christian.
Christianity isn’t popular because the demands are exclusive, not inclusive. It’s a narrow path that we follow in Christ. He is the Lord and there is no room for any of us to share that with Him. The commands and doctrines of Christ are not subject to discussion, changes or adjustments that culture may want to see. Simply put, Christianity doesn’t fit our world. Look at how many commercials on TV are about drinking. The modern church has tried to find a merger between popular culture and Christianity. This is why moderns are convinced that they can party and flirt with the world during the week, as long as they get one dose of Jesus on Sunday morning. It’s the best of both worlds. Just a little faith and just a little sin. Not too much of either one. And as these folks happily dance through life, convinced that they can be popular with both the world and Jesus, they have been fooled by Satan and are making a complete mistake in their lives. It’s Christ or the world. The two are going different directions. The two do not fit together. We are strangers here, as Peter put it. This world is not our home, as we sing. We do not fit in here. We are different. We dress differently. We talk differently. We have different motives. We have different ambitions. We have different standards. Your kids will be different in school. You will be different in the work place. If we don’t get this, we don’t get Christianity.
Paul’s words simply remind us that we are not trying to be popular here. We are not trying to please others here. We are not trying to fit in. We are not even trying to be like here. We are looking the other direction. We are pleasing Christ.
In Corinthians, Paul refers to his life as the “scum of the world.” The KJV uses the expression, “the filth of the world.” When I think of scum I think about a small Indiana pond that is green with scum. You’d wouldn’t want to drink any of that. It’s not inviting to you. On a hot summer day, you wouldn’t want to jump in there. And, filth, we know that. You ever walk through a college dorm as the students are moving out at the end of the year? Pizza boxes that should have been tossed months ago, stacked everywhere. Dust bunnies as large as cars. It’s a mothers nightmare. It’s a wonder the students didn’t get some disease living in such filth. And, Paul is say, “that’s what we are.”
Paul’s point is clear. If I wanted to be famous. If I wanted to have the best seats in the theatre, have folks buying my dinner, having people begging for my autograph, I wouldn’t be preaching. Paul wasn’t a rock star. His crowds didn’t scream in uncontrolled adoration, as crowds did with the Beatles. People didn’t name buildings, or, cities after the apostles. Not back then, they didn’t. They were viewed as idiots. They were considered fools. They were thought to be misguided, misinformed and delusional. People made fun of them. The political powers tried to destroy them. They were mocked. They were misquoted. No one wanted to be with them. What Paul was doing wasn’t winning any favors with the people.
If he was selfish. If he was only interested in his career and his future, he certainly wouldn’t be preaching. So, then, why preach? Why put yourself through all of that. He wasn’t getting rich. He wasn’t doing himself any professional favors by following this path. He was murdering his career. He was lining up with the wrong people. Those odd people called Christians.
There was one answer. Jesus. Paul was all in with Jesus. He’d pay any costs. He suffer any trials. He’d give up fame and fortune. He would put himself on the wanted list. He would become filth to most people. He did all of that because of Jesus. He so believed and so trusted and so loved the Lord, that this was nothing to what the Lord had already done on the cross.
And, here we are. We must stop trying to make our faith pleasant to the world. It’s not. It’s shocking. It’s demanding. It’s challenging. It’s revolting. We must end this courtship with the world. The two do not go together. We must stop trying to find a happy way to be in the world and in Christ. It won’t work.
We are different. If we can’t accept that, we truly cannot accept Christianity. Modern churches have lost this. They are voting on abortion, gay marriage and transgender rights. They are trying to be in the world and in Christ and they are failing miserable. The audiences are huge, and why not. They have convinced the audiences that you can fit in the world and still please the Lord. No change is necessary. Just show up once in a while on Sunday and all is good. No accountability. No holiness. No sacrifices. They have shelved the idea that we are different than the world. Holiness has been replaced with happiness. And the audiences love that. The message allows them to stay in the world and it’s just enough to ease any guilt that they have. Wear what’s popular. See all the new shows. Fit in and do what the world is doing. That’s the modern message. Christianity Today quoted a millennial as defining herself as a Jesus girl. “I am a Jesus girl and I like to go out with my friends on Friday night for drinks.” Jesus girl. How cute! How modern! How about being a disciple of Jesus? How about being all in with Jesus? How about teaching your friends about the Lord?
It’s all in with Christ and all that comes with that, or it’s not. If I was trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
Thanks to my friend Kevin Clark for such a powerful reminder and a powerful sermon. All in with Christ. The Lord put it this way, the greatest command is to love the Lord with ALL your heart, mind and soul.
We are marching to Zion…let’s never forget.