My heart is full and I don’t know how to write about it. I also am not sure how much to write.
It was a devotion. It was one that I knew would elicit reaction, though not this much.
The thrust of the devotion: “We serve Jesus. We don’t serve the church.” I see some tunnel-vision in certain servants of the church. They focus so much on this single congregation that they seem at least at danger of forgetting Jesus. When something bad happens to the congregation, it is the end of the world – because their hope is in this gathering of believers, and not in Jesus, who is eternal.
So I did a devotion pointing back to Jesus. Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus. The church never died for me. The church didn’t save me. The church doesn’t rule the world on my behalf. Jesus does all those things.
The point was not that the church doesn’t matter. The point wasn’t that we shouldn’t serve the congregation. The point was that we serve Jesus first. He’s the reason we do anything; if we’re doing it for the church and that’s the end of it, we’ve turned the church into an idol.
The devotion did not go well.
At the end, one man stormed away. Another openly defied me.
And the sad thing is… their sinful nature has taken a good thing and twisted it. It is a good thing to love the church. It is a good thing to love the gathering of believers that God has joined you to. It is a wonderful thing to serve the congregation you’re attached to. These are good things.
But we must never confuse good things with the one who gave them.
The one who stormed away? He hasn’t been back to church since. I’m making an attempt to contact him this week. We’ll see how that goes.
The one who openly defied me? He’s calmed down.
We’ll see. I have a devotion with this same group next week. And I’m going to hit this again; I’m hoping I will be ever more clear. If any have begun to worship the congregation instead of Jesus, of course it’s going to cause problems. I’m casting down sacred cows. But in the end, it will be worth it. They’ll be faced with idolatry. They’ll have to choose: Jesus or church? What’s their priority?
Because if the priority is church, they need to be shown their sin. And if the priority is Jesus, well, shouldn’t such a message simply bring joy?
It’s sad. It has gnawed at me. Frankly, this incident has poisoned my Christmas celebration. I should be able to focus on Jesus, and what he’s done for me – not on someone storming away because I have the audacity to say that we serve Jesus.