Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Recovery Devotional 361 We Preach Not Ourselves

JMD Devotional 361 2 Corinthians 4:1-5 We Preach Not Ourselves

1-4 THEREFORE, SINCE we do hold and engage in this ministry by the mercy of God [granting us favor, benefits, opportunities, and especially salvation], we do not get discouraged (spiritless and despondent with fear) or become faint with weariness and exhaustion. We have renounced disgraceful ways (secret thoughts, feelings, desires and underhandedness, the methods and arts that men hide through shame); we refuse to deal craftily (to practice trickery and cunning) or to adulterate or handle dishonestly the Word of God, but we state the truth openly (clearly and candidly). And so we commend ourselves in the sight and presence of God to every man's conscience. But even if our Gospel (the glad tidings) also be hidden (obscured and covered up with a veil that hinders the knowledge of God), it is hidden [only] to those who are perishing and obscured [only] to those who are spiritually dying and veiled [only] to those who are lost.
For the god of this world has blinded the unbelievers' minds [that they should not discern the truth], preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ (the Messiah), Who is the Image and Likeness of God.

5For what we preach is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves [merely] as your servants (slaves) for Jesus' sake.

The Energizer Bunny® doesn’t work without his batteries; and we cannot be godly without being Christ-centered (He in us and we in Him). The Christian Message is not just philosophy; it is divine, supernatural power flowing from God based upon His promise. The Gospel is indeed enlightened logic; but if it were reduced to mere logic; a man-centered sales-pitch; then it is devoid of the power of God to transform lives. The Word of God has power because of who uttered it. Christianity is a religion; however, it is singularly capable of abolishing all other religions (that are nothing other than humanity’s attempts to reach God) by sending one from God Himself to us to show us and lead us on the Way of salvation. God saw our wretched, helpless estate, and sent His Son as the propitiation for our sins. It is all about Jesus Christ.

The problem I have with so many TV celebrity ministers is that it is all about them. In order for them to get and hold onto a following, they must be self-promoting. To attract the world as one’s audience, to entice their tastes, one must be worldly; and compromise is patently unchristian. The friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4). Godliness does not mix with a worldly lifestyle, though many Hollywood celebrities try to add the cross as a fashion statement. It is an attempt to appeal to a wider audience of fellow hypocrites (the cross should represent our corresponding sacrifice for what Christ has done for us, our death to this present world system and its enticements). The self-elevation of personality-based ministries is antithetical to Christian service.

“He must increase, but I must decrease. [He must grow more prominent; I must grow less so.](John 3:30 AMP)

When people use Jesus Christ to serve their own ends, then who is serving whom? (God is not our genie, nor is He our butler: He is our Lord and Master). A person is most effectively following and serving Jesus Christ when they become invisible to the ones they are ministering to. Discipleship should never foster co-dependence; we are to equip people, and wean them from us so that they can stand tall in Christ without ourselves being in the equation.

Dear God,
Your reputation is tarnished through those falsely claiming to represent You; but who are really just serving themselves. Many seekers have been betrayed by the twisted heresies and manipulation dished out by wolves in sheep’s clothing. I understand the cynicism of people who have been betrayed by counterfeits; but counterfeits could not exist without there having been the real thing also. Expose the frauds and con-artists! Help Your people to refrain from imitating the world’s ways: give us Your soul-winning power instead. May Jesus Christ be elevated. May we righteously handle Your Word (2 Timothy 2:15). Teach us how to do Your work in Your way with Your power and under Your blessing. You are the Message.

All (but*) quotes are from The Amplified Bible, published by
the Lockman Foundation. (AMP)
Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation
*New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
**Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. (Eugene Peterson's easy-to-read, contemporary Scripture translation)

I originally produced these blogs between 2006 and 2007, which were then published in my book, JMD Recovery Devotionals. In 2010, I am sending these out to a few people as I review them and see if my point of view has changed.

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