They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan – the one you testified about – well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”
To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and is now complete. He must become greater, I must become less.” John 3:26-29
Two weeks ago I wrote about the “worship protests” going on in some of our major cities. I had expressed concern that the whole gospel, including the “bad news” of our sin and separation from God, leading up to the good news of forgiveness and redemption, was in danger of being sugar-coated and incomplete. But watching the gatherings streamed, I did hear the whole gospel preached one night when the music was finished, and I pray the people caught what was being said, and that this evening wasn’t just a temporary emotional buzz from some great music.
However, reading the thread of comments raised a second concern for me.
“I wanted to be baptized! Come back to [city]!” one viewer pleaded. I responded to that person that if she has confessed her sins, repented, believed, and given her life to Jesus, she could go to her church (or find a church) and have the pastor baptize her [and explain baptism more thoroughly!]. I was hoping she wasn’t just wanting to be baptized at a gathering with somebody famous, so she could post the pictures on social media. (Forgive me if that sounds cynical.)
I have nothing against leaders with charisma. But it’s something the Church needs to be very careful with. I’m certainly not blaming this man for the shallowness of some of his fans, but I do hope he is making it clear that they are not to be fans of him, but followers of Jesus.
This is not a new problem in the Church. Nearly two thousand years ago the apostle Paul dealt with this issue in at least one of his congregations. It seemed that for some of the Corinthians, loyalty to their favorite leaders was causing divisions.
One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? I am thankful I did not baptize [many of you]” I Corinthians 1:12-14
The Church doesn’t need our own rock stars, and we don’t need to practice name-dropping in our spiritual conversations. God isn’t impressed with name recognition, and we shouldn’t be, either. Anyone with a gift – and that would be any one of us – has been given that gift to advance the gospel. When we use our gifts the way He desires, it pleases Him, no matter how great or small those gifts might be. In the gospel of Matthew Jesus tells the parable of three servants who were entrusted with their master’s money while he was away on a journey. Two of them – the one who had been given five talents and the one who had been given two talents – each doubled the value of what they had been given, and they received identical praise from their master:
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” – Matthew 25: 21 & 23
I want to hear those words, don’t you? What matters isn’t the size of the gift, it’s our faithfulness with whatever we’re given.
This is why it’s disturbing to see some people respond to revival by sitting on the sidelines and letting the celebrities do the work. One of the comments on the thread was, in essence, “Come to my city! We need revival here!”
To use Paul’s logic, “Is this singer the source of revival? Was this singer crucified for you? Are you expecting him to do it all? – Could he possibly do it all!?” I’m sure he would be the first to tell you “NO!” He is a vessel, not the source.
I couldn’t resist responding to this comment with, “If your city needs revival, gather your church and get busy!”
The large evangelistic gatherings taking place in our cities will be effective only if they are encouraging the Church to spread the Good News everywhere. Otherwise, when the night is over and the band has moved on, everyone will go back to “business as usual,” and no lives will be changed.
To summarize: I see two mistakes we should all be very aware of:
- [Last post] We can’t sugar-coat the gospel, leaving out the fact that until we come to Christ in repentance, our sins are separating us from God. If we just sing happy songs and dance around for a couple of hours, sweeping our sins under the rug, we will remain lost in our sin.
2. And for those who have been reconciled to God through Christ’s death on the cross, we should NOT sit back and leave evangelism up to a handful of worship teams, however charismatic they may be! The Great Commission was given to all believers. Let’s “get up off our blessed assurance and do it!”
Friends, let’s not waste another day. Time is too short, and the harvest is too great!