• The idea of having faith in Jesus has come to be totally isolated from being his apprentice and learning how to do what he said (Dallas Willard)
  • Salvation does not mean sinless perfection, but it does mean a new direction. (D. Greear)
  • Thanksgiving and appreciation are cousins to Hope. When you marry a person, you get the whole family. If we desire Hope, then we must develop an attitude of thanksgiving (Wade Marian Hughes)
  • The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell; The greatness of the man’s power is the measure of his surrender. (William Booth)
  • The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members. (William Temple)
  • You never have to advertise a fire. Everyone comes running when there’s a fire. Likewise, if your church is on fire, you will not have to advertise it. The community will already know it. (Leonard Ravenhill)
  • We do not want a church that will move with the world. We want a church that will move the world. (G.K. Chesterton)


Text: Hebrews 2:  We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

I was having a conversation with a friend, who mentioned that their church was having a pastor appreciation Sunday. The idea of pastor appreciation seems to have been inspired by the fact that the fourth Thursday of November is officially Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America. While it is good to highlight the work of organising the believers, might nourishing that belief undermine the priesthood of believers whose ministry is wherever they go? Might the biblical concept of gratitude be reduced to creating idols that need to be recognised and appreciated? Remember the words of Christ, “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (Luke 17:7-10).  Disciples who were left to communicate the work of Christ cannot allow themselves to be praised. If the church is a gathering of believers, then His word is the base of the knowledge used to function. You cannot be a servant of Christ and of self. “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’ (Matthew 23:8-11). The challenge facing Christians in some parts of the world is normalising the culture that contradicts the very direct teaching of Christ. This begins when the word of God is not read publicly, and so motivational and lifestyle talks are allowed to be the light within.


The need for superpower – While Christ did not leave any organized church, there was a need for believers to come together to encourage one another (Hebrews 10:24-25), and the concept of one person being the one with the word is a recent cultural construction.  English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1651) believed that man’s natural inclination to war could only be tamed by a strong, centralized government. He was of the view that a sovereign power, whether a king, or a governing assembly, would be unrestrained in its power. This thinking subtly gets into the organized gathering of believers, and the fallen nature demands more power, recognition, and temptation to be God’s representative. Unfortunately, as Lord Action observed, ‘Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely’. What starts with the belief that ordinary people that have not studied theology may not understand the word, end up having a few select being the ones who can explain the scriptures. Needless to say, the believers that Christ left were ordinary people like us. The people that Paul and Peter wrote letters to were ordinary people, that included traders like Lydia (Acts 16:14-16), yet all such church members were expected to understand Paul’s letters. Isolating one category of work may refocus attention to what does not promote the gospel.

The moment Christ’s servants become praise consumers, there is danger of commodification of the faith. Advertisements in hope of attracting those who can give big gifts becomes a real temptation. Instead of having a living relationship with Christ, people seek for the motivational talks that make them accepted by the ‘idol’ they have created. Mere positive thinking replaces the word of God that transforms people by having their minds renewed. Instead, the ‘believers’ become worldly and learn from the world how to do Gods kingdom businesses. Where Christ has not taken the lordship in a life, then people get used as objects to make one gain praise, fame and resources. The word of God that convicts people is made unknown and so powerless. ‘For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.’ (Hebrews 4:12).

The word of God disregarded as light and lamp – Where thoughts and attitudes are not judged by the word of God but the ‘wink’ of a human being, there is no recognition of sin, no repentance, no humility in that Christianity without Christ. ‘If we neglect being loved by God we neglect being forgiven and accepted and protected and strengthened and guided by almighty God”. (John Piper). To neglect the great salvation is to neglect the sacrifice that Jesus became. Where the cross of Christ has been emptied of its power by subtle manipulation of human beings, Christian faith and church gathering is used as a means to their ends. The human tendency is to want a god who can do what the one in power wants. A Jesus who is used to serve people’s end by giving them bread, fame, and power is what they want. Just as Jesus replied, led by the Spirit in the wilderness, when tempted with food, fame and power, going back to what is written is important. If it is Jesus Christ you serve, let him know your needs. Remember Jesus Christ’s teaching, ‘If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.’ (Matthew 18:6). Acts that deflect attention from the cause of Christ are misleading those seeking healing and forgiveness from the only one who can do it.

The attraction to coming up with systems that elevate human beings above the written word of God is a reality that we all have to face. To overcome that spirit of idolatry is to rightfully position Jesus Christ. God cannot and will not take second place or allow His name to be used in vain. Once we make God subservient or equal to something or someone else, we have taken Him out of His proper position. All desire to be recognized as special, the one whose prayers reach to God, is idolatry whose root is fundamental dishonesty. Paul describes this in terms of an exchange, which is a dishonest exchange: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. (Romans 1:25-26). Thanksgiving to God is not possible where God has been deposed. True gratitude to God comes from recognition of human inability to meet God’s standards. It begins by willingness to know and obey God’s word. Somehow, there is a crack in everything and that is how light comes in. There is hope for the Church of Christ because having hope, praying, and surrendering to the authority of Jesus Christ is what will bring light that will break through the darkness in our world.  Christianity without Christ is a form of idol worship. The gospel of health, wealth and prosperity may attract some people by appealing to their desire for pleasure, comfort and success but it will not convict them of their sins. Should we not be having a Thanksgiving Day to God rather than his servants?

The church is not a select circle of the immaculate, but a home where the outcast may come in. It is not a palace with gate attendants and challenging sentinels along the entrance-ways holding off at arm’s-length the stranger, but rather a hospital where the broken-hearted may be healed, and where all the weary and troubled may find rest and take counsel together.’ (James H. Aughey).


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