We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. The end of the Lord’s ministry was quickly approaching.
That being said, there are posts that I really enjoy writing. There are others that I wrestle with God about publishing them. I don’t want to be the one who rocks the boat. Unfortunately, today’s post is one of those that I didn’t want to write.
Jesus was nearing the cross and the battle lines were being drawn between Him and the religious leaders of His day.
While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”
Luke 20:45-47 NIV
In Jesus’ day, there were those who taught the Scripture, while at the same time having an element of self-indulgence. There were times that they taught the truth of God’s Word, drawing people closer to the Lord. At the same time, they were feeding their own egos and lining their pockets.
These religious leaders liked the fact that they were highly esteemed among the people. They were able to dress well and were readily recognized. People wanted to be at the meetings when these leaders were present.
According to Jesus, for all of their training and knowledge, they weren’t scoring any points with God. As a matter of fact, the Lord warned the crowds that they needed to do what these leaders taught, while at the same time rejecting their self-absorbed lifestyle (Matthew 23:1-4).
Jesus also condemns the religious system itself. He points out the fact that their extravagant way of life is paid for by those who could least afford it.
That was the easy part of this post. Now on to the difficult section…
Lately, I’ve been becoming more and more disheartened by the direction of our modern system of Christianity. It seems like in many areas we’re taking on the attitude of corporate America.
What do I mean by this? In most large corporations, the senior executives make more money than they could spend in ten lifetimes. In that same company, the employees who do the bulk of the work can’t make ends meet with the one salary they earn from doing that job.
Now we have huge churches where the pastors have big homes, garages full of cars, private jets and a continual desire for more. Many of their members have to work two or sometimes three jobs to make ends meet. Granted, they’re preaching Jesus Christ, and many are getting saved under their ministry. But at what point is enough, enough?
I’m told that their luxurious lifestyle is the reward for their faithfulness in the ministry. As a pastor who has been serving the same church for over 30 years, I find that kind of thinking offensive. I gave up a career where I was on track for a six-figure engineering salary when God called me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not jealous of these preachers. If I had it to do all over again, I would gladly make the same choices for the honor of serving my Lord. I just don’t like being told that the car I drive or the house I rent is the indication of how faithful I’ve been to the calling of God.
It’s nothing new. The church has been dealing with this throughout history. I like Paul’s attitude.
But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Philippians 1:18 NIV
That’s the attitude I want to portray. I apologize if I seemed to be ranting. I hold no ill will against any of my brothers or sisters in the ministry. I simply want Christ to be exalted in His church.
Question: What is the true indication of faithfulness to God?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi