Saturday, May 3, 2008

Why Do You Do What You Do?

For all of us involved in preaching the gospel, performing music, publishing Christian materials, and all the rest, there is an uncomfortable message here: Jesus is not terribly impressed with religious commercialism. He is concerned not only whether we're doing God's work, but also how and why we're doing it. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, his main questions for me will have to do not with the growth or the budget of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, but with why I pastored this church—in what spirit.

If you sing in a choir, the question is not just if you're on your note; it's why you are singing at all.

If you teach a class, are you doing it with a heart that radiates God's love for the students, or for some other reason?
Our forebears back in the camp meeting days used to say that if people left a meeting talking about what a wonderful sermon the preacher gave or how beautifully the singers sang, the meeting had failed. But if people went home saying things like "Isn't God good? He met me tonight in such a wonderful way," it was a good meeting. There was to be no sharing the stage with the Lord.
(Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997 [New ed., 2003]. pp. 69-70.)
This is one of many striking statements I came across in this book last night. My wife bought it for me at a Thrift Store, and I picked it up after supper, only intending to skim through it and then get on to studying, but I couldn't put it down. The Lord ministered his glory to me in a wonderful way. It wasn't about what Jim and Carol have done at Brooklyn Tabernacle. Rather, it was about God working in what is foolish, what is weak, and what is low and despised in the world (1 Cor. 1:26-31). I was compelled to boast, not in men, but in the Lord.