We live in an age of self-promotion. We love attention. Think about it… social media, reality television, selfies. Everyone strives for likes, pokes, shares, retweets, clicks, and followers. What is our motivation behind anything that we do?
We know that 1 Corinthians 10:31 calls us to do all thing unto Christ and for His glory…
“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do ALL to the glory of God.”
But do we? What is our motivation behind the things that we do? Whose kingdom are we building? Are we building up our own? Are we building someone else’s? Or are we building God’s kingdom?
I believe most of us deep down want desperately to build the Kingdom of God… but sometimes without even knowing it our intentions or methods can get cloudy or twisted. We want to see souls saved, lives changed, community built amongst believers. We desire to see believers equipped, young Christians discipled, and churches grow. Doing this with the correct motive and without a human agenda in times of struggle (and especially success) is the real challenge. Colossians 3:23 says:
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”
While we are on this subject there are a few things I’d like to think about out loud…
- If people can go to our websites and hear about all of OUR ministries, OUR successes, and the things that WE can offer them, but they can’t see or hear about Jesus then we are in serious need of a wake up call… we are building OUR kingdom. In the end, we don’t really have much to offer apart from Christ.
- If the thing that continuously brings people back to our churches is the great music, comfortable atmosphere, or free coffee and donuts before service then we have totally missed the mark. Don’t get me wrong; these things are good things if we are using them for a greater purpose. We should desire more than membership… we should desire life change.
- Church membership, numerous programs and opportunities, and worldly excellence doesn’t change lives… Jesus does.
- If we are constantly worrying about what people (outsiders, our church members, etc) will think before we make a decision then who is really in control of the Kingdom we are building? It obviously isn’t our Father… because He tends to get ignored often times when we make decisions.
- Are we in the Gospel business or are we just businessmen? What are we building, promoting, and growing? Are we growing or expanding our kingdoms just for growth or expansions sake? You know… Steve Jobs would have made a heck of a church planter, consultant, or “church growth expert” while he was alive. He may not have been saved… but he knew how to communicate, promote, and grow a business. He was a good leader. God wants more than successful businessmen and leaders… He wants sold out servants. If you happen to be both then I’m sure that is okay too!
Here are a few things we can keep in mind when we think about the work we are doing and what kingdom we are building on a daily basis.
It’s kingdom work… not a competition.
Sometimes we can get so caught up in the things we are doing as individual bodies of Christ that we neglect the fact that we are all on the same side. We are part of the same family. We must face the reality that not every church has the same strengths as another. The “body” language in 1 Corinthians is often looked to within a single church or “body of Christ” whereas in reality we are all the body and many of us serve different purposes than each other. 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 says,
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
We don’t all use the same means to get to the common end. We all have different strength, passions, resources, and gifts. We MUST work together as a unified body to see that we are playing to our individual strengths and covering for each other’s weaknesses.
You may be asking… how is this practical, or how can I actually apply this?
Well let’s say you have a prospective member of your church that struggles in a particular area that your church doesn’t have the resources to effectively come alongside them in… but another Gospel loving Christ-centered church in town does. Do you point them in the direction of a ministry you know can help them or do you keep it to yourself and hope it works out? By pointing them in the direction of someone who can minister and disciple them effectively in their current situation you are growing God’s kingdom… you may not see your particular church or ministry “kingdom” grow because of it… but who cares? We don’t all have the same strengths! We need to stop acting like we do and work as a team!
Pride comes before the fall.
There are some of us in the ministry that will be part of a movement of God and we will see rapid growth in the ministries in which we serve… we must remember that it isn’t anything in which WE are doing. God has given us a gift… a moment to be part of something amazing. The show can and will go on with or without us. Stay humble, fight pride, and be a part of it! Allow God to work in and through you!
We must continually ask ourselves who is being glorified with this action? What kingdom is being advanced? All that we do should point to Christ and work to the advancement of His kingdom. James 4:6 says,
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Be used and stay humble.
Numbers may not equate to success.
Growth is super encouraging, but how and why are we growing? How is this kingdom being built? Are we establishing a strong foundation on the Word of God or are we building a kingdom to ourselves, our trendiness, flashiness, or excellence in arts or leadership? The Word of God isn’t always popular, but it is ALWAYS necessary. Preach faithfully, sing faithfully, and let the Lord do His work.
We need to be working to share the Gospel with the lost. If our ministries or churches are growing substantially but we aren’t baptizing ANYONE then we need to think about where those people are coming from. Are we just reshuffling church members from one church to another or are we reaching our communities? Now obviously church-folk shift from one church to another at points in their lives for numerous reasons… but that shouldn’t be our target audience. If our ministries or churches are growing primarily by stealing evangelized people from other ministries or churches that already part of the kingdom of God then what kingdom are we really growing? Probably ours if they already have citizenship in His…
We must check our motivation, stay humble, and allow God to move. Let’s work together for the one and only kingdom that matters.