I’ve been reflecting on Saskatoon Christian Center and the carnage surrounding Sovereign Grace Ministries. It leads me to wonder what sets a church down the wrong track? It seems as though the route towards false teaching and corruption is the result of subtle shifts away from the centrality of Christ. I was a charter member of a church plant many years ago that had a lot of really good things going for it. The values we started with are very similar to the ones I hold so dearly to now. In fact we could have been a network of house churches if we were brave enough to be truly different.
Very near the beginning we were given a prophetic word that we embraced so much we made a banner out of it and hung it on the sanctuary wall.
Hag 2:9a NIV "The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty.
Our new church was planted in the same building as a previous one that had just closed down. We proclaimed to ourselves and the world that the glory of our church would be greater than the glory of the church that had just closed down.
I believe this mistake to be a tragic one. It is one many good churches and church leaders have made. It is to seek the glory that has always belonged to Christ. Instead of yielding ourselves in faithfulness we try to build Christ’s church for Him in hopes that we can become proud and recognized for what we have built. When we are oriented to receiving the approval of people we open ourselves up to all manner of deceptions and abuses. We become more and more tempted to engage in coercive, deceitful or manipulative tactics. Once we start traveling down that road corruption is inevitable.
The following passage gives us a window to a conversation Jesus had with some Pharisees. I’ve been pondering it for a few weeks.
"Your approval means nothing to Me, because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. For I have come to you in My Father’s name, and you have rejected Me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the One who alone is God.
(Joh 5:41-44 NLT)
It appears that many of those who opposed Jesus did so because they were jealous of Him or were afraid of those who were jealous of Him. It would appear that some things haven`t changed very much.