Compromised and Spiritless
How many times did the Apostle Paul tell us about his weaknesses? Add up Paul’s weaknesses and you have a resume in which Paul could not get a job in today’s church—a weak appearance, diseased eyes, a poor speaker. It is quite different from today’s seminary training and congregational expectations. Paul represented God, knew nothing but Christ, and relied on the working of the Spirit. In today’s institutionalized church, the rules are already set; plans have been put in place by the best trained minds, and worship music is intended to entertain—where would the Holy Spirit even find a job?
1 Co 2:1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 1 Co 2:2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Co 2:3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 1 Co 2:4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
D. A. Carson describes the process clearly in this quote.
We have become so performance-oriented that it is hard to see how compromised we are. Consider one small example. In many of our churches, prayers in morning services now function, in large measure, as the time to change the set in the sanctuary. The people of the congregation bow their heads and close their eyes, and when they look up a minute later, why, the singers are in place, or the drama group is ready to perform. It is all so smooth. It is also profane. Nominally we are in prayer together addressing the King of heaven, the sovereign Lord. In reality, some of us are doing that while others are rushing on tiptoes around the “stage” and others, with their eyes closed, are busy wondering what new and happy configuration will confront them when it is time to take a peek.
Has the smoothness of the performance become more important to us than the fear of the Lord? Has polish, one of the modern equivalents of ancient rhetoric, displaced substance? Have professional competence and smooth showmanship become more valuable than sober reckoning over what it means to focus on Christ crucified?[i]
[i] Carson, D. A. (2004). The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians (pp. 38–39). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
Published on Saturday, August 29, 2015 @ 4:51 AM CDT