Separation of Church and Commerce: the holy, tainted by humanity

Humanity is fallen.

Completely, irrevocably, hopelessly fallen.

We set into motion the second law of thermodynamics: we were born with an innate tendency to destroy everything we touch. This is why we can never be saved by works: “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). We make mistakes. We screw things up. We’re a flawed creation that can attain perfection only through the grace of God. We can only be fulfilled through surrender to Him.

Why is honest money more rewarding than ill-gotten goods? Why are committed relationships more satisfying than short-term flings or one-night stands? Because that’s how God intended things to be.

But then we get involved. We think we can do better. We devise alternate routes that we think will fulfill us, but by the very act of taking control we have condemned our own endeavor to failure.

Even the church is not safe from our unclean hands. When we let our humanity take over and we begin to call the shots, the church becomes something entirely different than it was intended to be. Instead of a living, growing body dependent on God and surrendered to His will, the church becomes a corporation.

An efficiently run corporation, to be sure. But efficiency is the enemy of flexibility. We become so rigidly structured that God can no longer move in our midst. We don’t follow the lead of the Spirit because we follow the program instead.

When we play by our own rules, we revert to the business-like system of society. The preacher becomes the manager. The shepherds become a board of directors. Offerings are no longer a gift; they are a budget. And God? He is nothing more than a sponsor. When that happens, the church no longer has any meaning. We’ve mixed our faith with consumerism and our religion is just another part of our American Dream.

Even ministry has become only a sanitized sub-category of climbing the corporate ladder. Which church pays more for a children’s minister? How much is the pastor expected to do? Who gets to fire the worship leader? At that point, it’s not service; it’s commerce. It’s not about the heart; it’s about the money and the titles and the desire for power and all the things the world chases after.

David Platt writes in his book Radical, “We will…aim toward embracing Jesus for who he really is, not for who we have created him to be. We will look at the core truth of a God-centered gospel and see how we have manipulated it into a human-centered (and ultimately dissatisfying) message.”

We need to step back and take a serious look at what we’ve become. Are we a people sold out to Jesus and chasing after Him with everything we’ve got? Or do we hang back in our comfort zone, weighed down by stats and dollar signs and positions? Do we fearlessly step out and do crazy things for Christ, trusting Him for the outcome? Or have we traded faith for common sense?

Keith Green was a cool guy who saw everything in black and white and wasn’t afraid to step on toes. He gave away his albums because he saw them as ministry instead of money. He and his wife Melody took in drug users and unwed mothers, eventually buying the other houses on the street to continue growing their community of transformed believers. They prayed. They trusted God to provide — and He came through. When Keith felt God calling him to Texas, he left everything and followed, continuing His ministry there. At concerts, when Keith felt the Holy Spirit moving, he hid under the piano so that he wouldn’t get in the way. He knew what would happen if he let his humanity take control, so he left his life in God’s hands.

Could we live a life like that? Can we give up our consumer-driven church with all its human-imposed complications and just reach out for JESUS?

Actually forget the “we” because revival has to start somewhere and it might as well start with you. Will YOU be the first to let it all go and chase after Him?

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Published in: on February 13, 2012 at 1:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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