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Southern California is home to a prominent group of pastors with hearts truly on fire for God. However, mixed among these diligent servants of the Lord is a small, destructive cadre who poses as godly leaders without caring for the spiritual wellbeing of their flocks.
Serving message after empty-calorie message concerning the material trappings of the world, their preaching provides ‘Exhibit A’ examples of sermons that are ‘all sizzle and no steak.’ But these misguided ministries are not all the pastors’ fault. With pressure from influential trustees, deacon boards, and congregations more interested in quenching their fleshly appetites than their spiritual ones, pastors are often only giving the people what they want.
Under the guise of ‘more’ being ‘better,’ some pastors try to become ‘all things to all people.’ In so doing, their congregations never learn that while varied preaching styles and ecclesiastical temperaments can exist, God’s message must remain uncompromised, never bending to the times, but rather, the times bending to it.
Christ never expected His message to appeal to everyone. In fact, Jesus meant for His word to provoke division between His disciples and Satan’s. But with some pastors presiding over glorified social clubs, one can hardly distinguish between the Church and the world.
Consequently, some souls that hunger for spiritual nourishment figure, ‘The Church can’t help me when there’s as much #!?%& going on there as in the world.’ For this reason, disciples of Jesus must keep God’s ‘Main Thing’, the main thing.
What is God’s ‘Main Thing?’ Sacrifice in obedience to God, and in service to His people. Not a happy message for those living only to satisfy their flesh. For them, repeated sermons concerning ‘money cometh’ are much to be preferred.
Consumed by an unquenchable thirst for things, it never occurs to materialistic Christians that while they possess the promise of salvation, they have no spiritual power in the ‘here and now’ to obtain the material trappings they recklessly charge to God.
And because they don’t keep God’s ‘Main Thing’ the main thing by, “…seeking first the Kingdom of God…(and all these things shall be added unto you”– Matthew 6:33), they constrain God’s desire to add the other ‘things’ to them.
Why did God say, “… think of others as better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3), and Jesus, “…it is more blessed to give than receive.” (Acts 20:35)? So that we’d be able to experience, ‘The joy of the Lord.’
That’s ‘JOY’ as in Jesus first, others second, and yourself last. When Christ returns, He won’t care about the size of our homes, cars or bank accounts, only how we used them to feed, shelter, and transport the less fortunate that they too may hear about the good news of the ‘Joy’ of the Lord.
Derek Smith is a Christian freelance author, columnist, speaker, and member of Loveland Church in Ontario, California. He can be reached via email to