Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Christian believers demeaned by pietistic preachers

I am at a loss to understand how any intelligent evangelical can state a position that the only Christians who are serving the Lord are those who do it somewhere other than in their home area and outside their daily calling!

It reveals a very low view of God and of Christian service. The only people who are serving the Lord, according to this truncated and unbiblical view, are those who do it for two weeks in the summer, or in a foreign country, or with a Christian organisation. That is precisely why the churches today do not pray for their Christian members who are doing 'ordinary' jobs the entire year round. Their daily work is sub-Christian, according to this view, therefore not to be supported prayerfully.

So if a joiner or other tradesman does this work for a Christian organisation, he is to be prayed for, but if he, as a Christian, does the same work for a non-Christian, it is no longer Christian service for the Lord. If a Christian nurse or doctor or teacher fulfils their calling in Africa with a church or with a Christian organisation, that person is serving the Lord; but if he or she works in a hospital at home, then their work cannot be deemed to be Christian service. How strange!

So what constitutes service as "service for the Lord" is NOT the fact that God has graciously called a sinner to Himself and brought him/her into His divine service, but WHERE s/he does it, and for whom it is done.

Such theological and spiritual nonsense is widespread within evangelical churches today, is offensive to Christ, and demeans the Christian witness and service of Christians who serve Christ at home.

Good Christian people must redress this shocking imbalance - to put the best gloss on it - and insist that their work is regarded equally as service for the Lord, regardless of where it is done. What makes it Christian, then, is where it is done, for whom it is done, and who pays you for doing it (if it is paid work).

Spiritual leaders within the churches must take this issue up with those preachers who are spreading such confused thinking among the flock, over which God has made them overseers. Elders must seek to discuss this with their minister, ascertain the biblical basis for their viewpoint, ask why Christians at home are not being prayed for, why Christians in hospital and/or as patients are not seen as missionaries and prayed for, etc. Why are Christian teachers not regarded, in this view, as serving the Lord, or any other Christian worker? If the only service for the Lord is being done by a few Christians for a very short period of time each year, then may God have mercy on us all. It is most offensive to the Body of Christ for any minister to infer that Christians fulfilling their divine calling in 'ordinary' occupations are not serving the Lord.

A much more biblical position is to see every Christian as someone who has been called by God from the full-time service of Satan into the full-time service of Christ. Can you imagine any unbeliever serving his evil master in a part-time manner? Surely the imaginations of the thoughts of their hearts are only evil continually (Gen.6). They are/were the full-time servants of Satan.

So when they are saved, they become, not part-time servants of Christ, but full-time servants of their new Master. The view I am criticising leaves Christians with the option of not serving Christ with their whole lives, and still be regarded as Christians. This is impossible, for when a sinner receives Christ for salvation, s/he is receiving a whole Christ, as Lord as well as Saviour. If that Christian is not submitting to, and serving Christ as Lord, he has not got Him as Saviour; for a half Christ cannot be served because a half Christ does not exist.

Every Christian lives his/her life under the Lordship of Christ; that means that his/her life is one of dedicated service to the Master. Every Christian is in full-time service for the Lord, and not just some who are viewed as super-spiritual because they serve the Lord in a normal way and in a normal context.

Every Christian ought to be encouraged to see their Christian lives as acts of service in themselves, as sacrifices to the Lord (Rom.12). No matter what a Christian's calling is in this world, they duty and privilege is to serve the Lord with their whole hearts. Indeed, there is much less opportunity for spiritual pride in the Christian who drives a lorry or bus to the glory of God, as there is for a minister! This biblical view reduces to nil the opportunity for spiritual pride (the very pride that caused Lucifer to lose his exalted place in heaven!), whereas the other view provides everything that is required for spiritual pride to take root and grow.

All Christians must learn, then, that as Christians, their privilege as believers is to offer their lives as living sacrifices unto the Lord, which is their reasonable service. Never accept anything less than this. Indeed, every believer who meets in God's house for the worship of His Name is serving God - do we not call these 'services'?

We must get away from all kinds of superficial spirituality, and return to the Bible's clear teaching on the position of the Christian in the Kingdom of God.