"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Style Over Substance Destroys

During the Jewish trial that led to the crucifixion of Christ we read this interesting verse:

"By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover." (John 18:28).

These religious leaders were greatly concerned to maintain their external purity while they were in the process of seeking the execution of the Son of God! They wanted to be able to participate in the sign of the coming Messiah (the Passover), but were blind to the very presence of the Messiah who had already come.

How easy this can happen. We concentrate on the superficial, external elements of faith while neglecting the primary issues of the heart. We can get caught up in the ceremony and the ritual of church and miss the internal transforming power of the Christ.

We are diligent to perform a weekly worship service but we pay little attention to Christ transforming our hearts in daily living.

We talk in spiritual "lingo" (ex. bless you my brother, praying for you my friend, etc . . .) and "look spiritual" to those around us, but we remain indifferent and unloving to those who are actually hurting around us.

We can smile and talk about loving one another from the pulpit, yet rip a brother apart with our pen or our words when we are outside the environs of the Church.

We can talk about the importance of putting God first in our lives but never even consider God's will in our decision making.

May God give us all the ability to put the focus on our own hearts, and avoid the trap of emphasizing the externals to the neglect of the weightier issues of life --- our own hearts.

In His Grace,


wade

9 comments:

Stephen Pruett said...

Wade, As a layman I have always held pastors in high esteem. One of the things that has become evident to me on blogs is that pastors are no different from anyone else in being susceptible to these faults. This should not have been a surprise, because the Bible is very clear on the nature of all men. It just reinforces for me that it is a serious mistake to place a pastor on too high a pedestal and to be unwilling to confront him in love when we have differences or believe that he is harming others or himself or sinning. What is your take on this? Do you ever recieve "correction" from your flock and do you appreciate it or dislike it?

irreverend fox said...

Amen, Wade.

irreverend fox said...

Stephen,

I quickly remind such lay people that I'm the expert and the man of God around here. I'll say, "if there is anybody going to be doing correction around here it's ME!" Then I'll ask them something to make them feel bad like, "have you been tithing?" If they say "yes", I'll then ask, "ON YOUR GROSS?" Most of the time that ends their silly attempt to correct me.

Wade Burleson said...

Stephen,

I receive correction from many places, including my congregation, my wife, my kids, and my friends.

I am grateful for it all!

The correction comes in many forms --- words of praise, words of criticism, personal letters, phone calls, passing conversations in hallways, etc . . .

I constantly evaluate what I do, how I serve, and what I say by the good it produces in other people.

In the end, I do what I do because I believe I am led of the Spirit to do it, and no amount of human 'correction' will change that, BUT there are times when I am not being Spirit led and the simple words of my youngest child are often used by God for my correction.

In His Grace,

wade

peter lumpkins said...

Wade,

I could not agree more, my Brother. I think leaders--denominational as well as pastoral--are especially vunerable to this religious facade.

Busy attempting to relieve sufferings of others or "fix" systemic problems of our organizations, we too soon forget our hearts are putty needing a bit of its on prescribed (re)formation.

Thank you. Have a great Lord's Day evening, my Brother Wade. With that, I am...

Peter

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade... Well stated, especially where you said " we never ever consider Gods will in our decision making"....Two things that stir my spirit in this area are 1) The token scheduled church revival and 2) the weekly worship bulletin.... I believe that this is scheduling God instead of seeking Him.....

jasonk said...

Easy to talk about, tough to do.

Great post, and sorely needed, by me especially, and by our church leaders too.

I remember when I was a pastor, and would go to the annual meetings. The gossip that would take place in the lobby would rival any hair salon or bar in the towns we pastored. All while the Word was being preached thirty feet away.

Thanks for the reminder.

SBC IS BAPTIST said...

Wade,

God's word and a commentary by John Gills say it better than I can.
Thank you for this series and it is reflected in Your Heart for the Lost and Your Blog.

Psa 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
Psa 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
Psa 33:15 - He fashioneth their hearts alike,.... The Lord is the former and fashioner of the heart, spirit, or soul of man, even of all hearts and spirits; whence he is called the Father of spirits, Heb_12:9; see Zec_12:1; and he is the former of them alike; which seems to intimate as if all seals were alike, as they are made by the Lord; and it may be the difference there appears to be between them afterwards, nay be owing to the make and constitution of their bodies, to their education, and different situation, circumstances, and advantages in life, whereby the hearts of some may be more opened and enlarged than others. Some render it "together", or "altogether" (g); which must not be understood of time, as if they were all made at once, but of equality; the one was made by him as well as the other; he is the fashioner of one and all of them, every whit of them; they are wholly fashioned by him, and all that is in them, all the powers and faculties of the soul; and by him only, and not by the instrumentality of another; for souls are created, not generated; they are produced out of nothing, and not out of pre-existent matter, as bodies; parents contribute somewhat to the bodies of their children, but not anything to their souls. God only "is the God of the spirits of all flesh", Num_16:22; some translate the word "singly" (h); one by one, one after another in the several ages of time; for he continues to fashion them, and is always doing it; see Zec_12:1. And he forms the hearts of his own people anew for himself, for his own glory; he forms Christ in them, and every grace of his Spirit; he forms them into one, and knits and unites them together in love, and makes them like to one another; for as face answers to face in water, so do the hearts and experiences of the saints one to another, Pro_27:19; all which he does wholly and alone; and since he fashions the hearts of all men in every sense, he must know them, which is the design of this expression; he knows the hearts of wicked men, and all the wickedness that is in them; he knows the hearts of good men, the worst that is in them, and also the best, which he himself has put there;

he considereth all their works; the works of evil men, not only their more open ones, but their more secret ones, and will bring them into judgment; and the works of good men, even their good works, which he will remember and reward in a way of grace.

(g) יחד "simul", Musculus, Gejerus; so Ainsworth. (h) καταμονας Sept. "sigillatim", V. L.

In His Name

Wayne Smith

SBC IS BAPTIST said...

Wade,

1Th_5:24. The same God who calls a Christian will perform this by the Holy Spirit who indwells him. God is faithful to bring to completion the work He has begun in believers (Phi_1:6). God does not save a person by grace and then leave him alone to work out his Christian growth by works (Gal_3:3). As God calls and justifies by grace, He sanctifies by grace too.

In His Name

Wayne Smith