Blind fools, which is greater, the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred….the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? (Matt 23:17-19)
One Wednesday night I witnessed a mighty move of God. When the weight of His glory lifted we stood around not wanting to leave in a state of shock. One lady raises her hand and says the most incredible thing I have ever heard “I prayed for this to happen.” It was so subtle as she went on and on about, well herself. She was giving the prayer and the person praying more glory than God’s Sovereignty.
That Wednesday night was God’s grace flowing through us in spite of us. There is no one thing or person more important than His presence, His will, His Sovereignty. There is no vessel more beautiful and elogant, or fervant than God Himself.
I had a huge paradigm shift when hit with this question. I used to think church (denomination, building, structure, processes, even gifted people running the church) was the end all be all. Worse yet, I didn’t even know I thought that way until personal friends started a house church and walked away from institutional processes and status quo. They were answering this question “Which is greater? Me or all that?”
You see our gifts, as great as they are, don’t sanctify people, God sanctifies people. Church, bible studies even prayer groups don’t sanctify people, God does.
A prayer group can pray for people to be healed, but it is God that does the healing. The prayer group is only the vessel, the point of contact for God. That point is not more important than God.
Before I started in any ministry a dear friend in ministry gave me this piece of advice: Make a point every year to study the woes Jesus gave the Pharisees. Matthew 23
I am profoundly jolted everytime I do. I wonder what kind of reception this “Woes” teaching would get at a Catalyst conference? It’s the one teaching Jesus directed straight to church leadership.
There is nothing so directly opposite to the gospel than the temper and practices of these Pharisitical men. They were idols to themselves and to people in the church. Idols always, always, always abuse. Jehovah God is the only god not abusing His people.
Today’s question brings up one abuse in particular. Who gets the glory in God’s house? What is more important the glory inside the vessel or the vessel? What’s more important the product of the altar or the altar itself? What’s more important the sanctified or what does the sanctifying versus who does the sanctifying?
Ministry is not more important than the Holy Spirit. Having a rocking worship leader might attract more people, but that does not mean the Holy Spirit was in on it. A charismatic teacher or wonderful teaching is not more important than Jesus Himself. It leads to abuse.
This question on some occasions comforted me when I was rattled about people, institutions and even processes God uses. It’s almost like He smiles at me and asks “Sandy, what is more important, that person being sanctified or Me doing the sanctification?”
On other occasions this question has brought me to my knees as I realized I had made a bigger hoopla of godly things and people than I did of God.
I can make so much of the vessel, and conditions in place I can even disqualify myself. Which is another way of making something more important than God and in turn abusing myself.
God is not dependent on us, nor our prayer groups, or our Bible studies, we are dependent on Him.
Reinhard Bonke puts it very well.
It is one of the most deeply rooted beliefs (actually, “unbeliefs”), that God is more with some people than others. We even make all kinds of conditions by which we explain why He is; some are more holy, or more prayerful or something. As if the presence of God depends on us! The promise of His presence is unconditional.
Let’s take our self righteous blinders off and really answer this question.
Q4U: How do you deal with glory thieves?