Friday, October 30, 2015

Who is the God of Your Ministry?

The Relationship Idol 

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Ephesians 4:11-12
ministry: Greek word diakonia meaning service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others; of those who by the command of God proclaim and promote the Gospel among men.
Every single believer in Christ Jesus is to do the work of the ministry.  However, notice that the word "ministry" in the text above is singular.  In God's eyes, there are different callings and distinctive works supporting each calling, but there is still only one ministry. The only valid ministry is that which has been birthed by command of God, coming from His calling and being empowered by His Spirit to do one thing: proclaim and promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I don't care if there is a "ministry" on how to clean your house, how to make money in your business, how to manage finances, taking care of the homeless, how to raise children, how to be a strong woman, how to find a spouse...if it is not primarily focused on the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is not a ministry inspired or recognized by God. The Body of Christ has many needs which God equips the Church to meet, but the focus is always Christ.

"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24

Please hear me.  Ministry is not a word you can just slap on to something for which you think you have a gift. It is not a platform for making money or developing a following; neither does calling something a "ministry" automatically make it a work of God. The essence of ministry is NOT that you are doing something for Christ, but that Christ is at the center of what you do.

There is a great article by the School of Christ which states:
When we are introduced to a new ministry and we wish to test its authenticity and spiritual value, we need only ask ourselves two questions: is this ministry centered upon Jesus Christ, and does it bring people into a deeper, more experiential knowing of Him?...If the minister or the ministry does not preach Christ, and does not bring people into spiritual maturity, then they fulfill the opposite of God’s intention – they make themselves the center and make the people dependent upon them, guaranteeing the spiritual immaturity of those affiliated with them.
This is predominately what we see these days. People use the label of "ministry" to showcase themselves.  The ministry then is really nothing more than a cloak for them to talk about themselves all day and have people idolize them. How do you know?  Look at the focus of their ministering; examine their words. They don't preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, rather they use God as an accessory to talk about what they are going through, how they have been blessed, how others are treating them, or what God is doing for them, etc.  Their lives in this world are the focus of every word, meaning the real god they are promoting is themselves.

"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." I John 2:16

One area where this is really prevalent is in what has been called relationship ministries. About a month ago, a sister in the Lord mentioned to me that there is a current trend where people are erecting "ministries" which focus on relationships: how to find a spouse, how singles can be prepared for a spouse, how to make your marriage work, etc.

Typically this is being led by a married couple whom people put on a pedastal as the epitome of married life. The basis of the ministry then is talking about what they do as a family, how they live as a family, struggles they have as a family... This sister shared with me that young people are literally fawning over such persons, wanting to eat like them, dress like them, and even be them.

Why are such ministries so popular? Because people are into themselves, love to talk about themseves, and draw people who are like themselves. Such persons are not attracted by the light of Christ, but by their lust to have what they think these people have (II Timothy 4:3; I Peter 4:1-2; II Peter 2:18; II Peter 3:3; Jude 1:16-18).  It is the equivalent of Mary Mary singing about the "God in Me", and it is all flesh. Such persons need to be born again.

Can I say that most of this is just junk? What is the answer for those experiencing marital troubles? Seek Christ. What is the answer for those singles desiring to be married? Don't idolize marriage, but seek Christ.  What is the answer for how to be a better wife or husband? Get on the cross, crucify the old man, and seek Christ.  It doesn't take a lot of discussion or evaluation to arrive at the right conclusion.  The answer is still and will always be Christ.

If you as an individual seek the Lord with your whole heart, then everything you should have will be given to you. More importantly, as you focus on the Lord, He will change your heart so that you only desire that which He has for you (Pslam 37:4).

In Christ we live, move, and have our being (Acts 17:27).  Everything that God has ordained for you to have is found in Christ.  When we start seeking a gift (i.e. marriage) in place of the Giver (Christ), we become idolators. Every ministry which leads you to focus on such is leading you into idolatry becuse they are focusing your affections on earthly things (Philippians 3:19).

"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." Colossians 3:2

I hate to tell you this, but marriage is of the earth. Why would God erect entire ministries to focus on areas that have no eternal value? He wouldn't.

"And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err." Mark 12:24-27

I struggle to find biblical basis for a "marriage" ministry, a "singles" ministry, an "entreprenuers" ministry, etc. There is one ministry, the preaching of Christ, and different callings in that one ministry to address the varying needs of the people.

For example, there is no "youth" ministry, but the ministry of God will address the youth in helping them to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is not a ministry for youth, but a ministry of Christ to the youth. This is not just semantics, but it deals with the focus of our work and what God we are serving. When the focus of ministry is on preaching Christ, then the quest is bringing youth into the understanding of the Gospel. When the focus of ministry is on the youth, then the quest is finding what appeases and appeals to the youth. This is how worldliness and false doctrine comes into the Church; the focus of ministry is not on Christ.

Although I had already started drafting this article based upon that earlier conversation a month ago, I received something this week which confirmed it. Another sister sent me the following video, asking my thoughts.  She had been trying to explain to others that you can make marriage an idol, but fellow Christians disagreed. In her message to me about this, she writes:

"Another thing that was interesting in the discussion was the glitz and glamour of social media evangelist. I'm seeing a huge trend with this, especially with young adults. They are now creating ministries platforming themselves either being young, saved and single or young, saved and married. I'm not condemning them but some seem like it's all for show, like some popularity contest."

This is exactly the issue the previous sister mentioned to me.  The cause is that people have made themselves the focus of ministry instead of Christ.



Let me state that I do not agree with much in this video. By that, I don't mean that it requires my validation; I mean that a good portion of it is just not Scriptural, even if they have the best of intentions.

The hostess of this video asks the panel repeatedly what they think of all of these ministries being established to focus on marriage, and they never really answer her. While offering advice about not putting marriage on a pedastal and understanding that marriage takes work, they never acknowledge that the focus of such ministries are off track to begin with. Why? Because they don't know. That is not a slight against them, it is just the truth. This is what happens when we make an idol of being in ministry; our thoughts and our expeiences in life become the focus of the ministry instead of Christ. Don't be so anxious to have a "ministry" that you become an ineffective minister for Christ.

People these days are quick to jump into "ministry", but how many are willing to let God work on and forge them so that He can reveal in them the ministry He desires them to have? Too often, people are racing to establish a "ministry" as if such is their calling card in Christ. However, everyone being perfected to do the work of the ministry does not mean that each person must establish an individual ministry. It could mean you are supposed to plug in to an existing ministry right where you are. Remember, there is only one ministry: the preaching of Christ.

Listen to the one woman talk about how she was going to have a ministry, how she had a plan and just needed her husband to come on board with it, how she had a calling, she was going to do things, and she was going places...who was the focus of her ministry efforts? Herself. It is all about her and what she can become and achieve through "ministry".  Yes, she may have believed that she was doing this "for God", but this is the misperception which perverts true ministry.

If your ministry centers around you (your marriage, your family, your perspective, or your anything), it is not of Christ. The result is that you get individuals in "ministry" who are not inspired by God to do what they are trying to do, leading people into error.

I'll point out something else which was shared with me about many of these marriage ministries: they often elevate the woman above all.  It is the woman who is positioned as the mouthpiece for the ministry. She is the wise one who basically runs things with the husband being more or less a prop to support her. She is in the focal point, she holds the ministry together, and she is the draw. The male followers lust to have her and the female followers lust to be her.

You can often pick up the condescending tone used to reference the man. He is depicted as a nincompoop who should be worshipping her (doing what she thinks he should do) and groveling at her feet. The attitude is that the man doesn't know anything and the woman has to carry the brunt of the weight in the marriage. Such women do not reverence their husbands, they resent them. They instictively believe that marriage is harder or requires more from women than from men, requiring them to carry the heavier load. This is a lie from Satan used in the Garden of Eden to tempt Eve, and women are still falling for this today.  It promotes an upside down order in the family and is a Satanic perversion.

Marriage is not about you dying to self so as to learn how to deal with your spouse.  Marriage is about dying to self so that the glory and mystery of Christ is revealed in the world.

"For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." Ephesians 5:31-32

Everything is about Christ, even marriage. When you don't know the purpose of marriage, you will not know how it is a reflection of our relationship with Christ. The call for a woman to submit to her husband was not the product of the fall.  It was God's design from the very beginning because the family is a reflection of the image of God.

Neither is submission the means to get the man to do what you want or for him to become "butter in your hands".  That is witchcraft. If a woman feels impetus to try and get her husband to do as she says, then she is operating in the spirit of witchcraft (this guide will download to your computer if you click it). A true man of God is going to follow the leading of the Lord alone (even as he considers the words of his wife), because Christ alone is his head. You cannot bring a worldly concept of marriage and think that is going to minister to someone. Such a perspective might speak to others, but it will not be words from the Lord.  It only speaks to them because they are lusting after what they think you have, the idol you represent.

God's focus in ministry is not your marriage, your business, your family, or any aspect of your life in this world. No ministry God ordains is going to focus your affections on your life in this world. He is not trying to give you your best life now. God's desire is for you to divest yourself of you so that Christ may live.

Flee from ministries whose focus is earthly so that you are not caught in a snare.

Additional Resources

Ministry for the Sake of Whom?

Put Your Family on the Altar

6 comments:

  1. You have placed this in words that I would not have been able to convey. It is a heart wrenching thing to watch, and definitely a sign of the last days. People heaping up teachers to scratch those itching ears and fulfill those worldly desires. It all makes me cringe because so many people are being lured into this and even the young propagators of this believe they have been called by God to do this. Let us not mention that some of them are making a rather nice living off of this, but I digress.

    I wrote a somewhat similar post back in August. Doesn't speak as well as yours, but I had similar thoughts about what people deem ministry or their calling. (http://latikat.blogspot.com/2015/08/ministry-for-sake-of-whom.html)

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    1. Thank you for sharing. It is interesting how God puts similar things on the heart of His people at the same time. I particularly like when you wrote:

      "More times than not, we will convince ourselves that we are doing the Lord (and other believers) a favor and begin to look for validation and approval because of the tasks we perform in His name. Deep down in our rejected and unsatisfied hearts, we want to be acknowledged and applauded."

      I think that is really it. People seek what they call ministry as a way for people to validate them and what they perceive as their calling.

      The churchworld has become a place where the mindset is, "As long as I say that what I do is for God then nobody can say anything about it, including God Himself."

      I hope you don't mind that I linked to your article up above. It is a word people reall need to hear so that we can all evaluate what we claim to be done in the name of ministry.

      Much love to you and the family!

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  2. In regards to the video, the couples cannot say that these ministries are off track because it seems that the whole reason they are on the show in the first place is because of their "ministries" in a sense. It is almost like they are saying in a round about that the ministries exist and have their place, just don't idolize them. Like you said, they really don't know. Social media has inflated this issue to astronomical proportions.

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    1. I agree. It is very sad. I have been praying for them since seeing this video, that the Lord will truly give them Godly wisdom in conjuncition with their zeal. They seem to really have a passion for the Lord, but not necessarily according to knowledge (Romans 10:2). I say that without being condescending in any way, but it is dangerous to counsel others. God is not just looking at good intentions, but He is looking for those who speak for Him to reflect His truths (Ezekiel 13).

      It should not be that in the church people are getting married and still having no idea what marriage is. and why marriage is designed the way that it is. God's people are truly destroyed for a lack of knowledge, and people are not considering this before deciding to pop up with a "ministry".

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    2. I completely understand where you are coming from and know you are not being condescending at all. They do seem to be very sincere, and I also pray that the Lord would give them the wisdom. I actually used the same Scripture reference when talking to Rashid about this awhile ago. There is a zeal, but not according to knowledge.

      Not a problem about linking to the article. I read A.W. Tozer's book "The Crucified Life" not too long ago. He stated how people will seek to give God 99% of the glory and still look for that 1% commission. I'd never heard anyone refer to it as a commission, but it is such a fitting example. I saw where I have been guilty of this in the past AND the present, and continually ask the Lord to search my heart.

      Much love to you all as well!

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  3. I love the following points from your article "It doesn't take a lot of discussion or evaluation to arrive at the right conclusion. The answer is still and will always be Christ. "
    "In Christ we live, move, and have our being (Acts 17:27). Everything that God has ordained for you to have is found in Christ. When we start seeking a gift (i.e. marriage) in place of the Giver (Christ), we become idolators. Every ministry which leads you to focus on such is leading you into idolatry becuse they are focusing your affections on earthly things (Philippians 3:19)."

    All that I read in your's and Latika's blog have been a confirmation. These ministries have distracted the church, we are so caught up in satisfying the flesh that we've erected whole churches to satisfy our wordly desires.

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