Integrity the Foundation of Our Lives
In this day and age, gifts and personality seem to be of premier importance in the Evangelical church. Many are building their ministries on the aura of gifted people with the manifestation of persona overshadowing the presence of God! All this, in spite of numerous biblical passages telling us that God opposes the proud and unbroken, and lifts up the lowly (see Isaiah 57 and Psalm 138:6).
I have learned, through intense suffering, that the foundation of my life will always be my character and that my gifts will only propel me in proportion to the degree I walk in integrity. By integrity I mean that both my inward and outward life coalesce in harmony under the lordship of Christ, instead of having a divide between my public ministry and private life which the Bible calls hypocrisy. Even nature teaches that the height of a tree is determined by the depths of its roots.
Unfortunately, much of the new wave of the American church growth movement has totally rejected biblical preaching on holiness in favor of self-help messages.
Many contemporary preachers are big on citing Scripture while their theology is a mile wide and an inch deep!
Our consumer-centered marketing approach may put a lot of fannies in the seats and draw high profile personalities, but these melt under the intense friction of life’s challenges and wilt when the fires of testing hit–a sure recipe for continual scandal, public humiliation, and ministerial disaster!
The more superficial your ministry, the more you will have to depend on marketing strategies in efforts to inflate inferior substance.
When pastors place people in positions of ministry based solely on their giftings, instead of placing proven people, it is like having an inexperienced surgeon perform heart surgery on one of your children. If you wouldn’t allow a rookie doctor to touch your child’s heart, then what makes pastors think they can release carnal Christians to minister to God’s children?
I am not against marketing per se and I am not a proponent of just preaching repentance messages every Sunday. But the New Testament church espouses a process of discipleship that produces godly leadership based on presenting the whole counsel of God in the context of the local church. Just check out the qualifications of both elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3. Character was predominant, gifting was less emphasized!
To say we can’t go by the biblical standards of 1 Timothy 3 because only a few would qualify or because some say it is being legalistic would mean that our standards will continue to dissipate, falling to the lowest common denominator of contemporary culture instead of the biblical norm that teaches Christians to be the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth.”
Jesus said: “If the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men” (Matthew 5:13).
The two salient qualities of light and salt are that light overpowers the darkness and salt both transforms the taste and penetrates the food; it is not only a preservative.
The problem isn’t so much that the world is getting into the church but that the church is imitating and validating the world, something alien to Scripture (1 John 2:15).
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