by Mike Ratliff
So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” (John 6:24-27 ESV)
“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” (Luke 20:46-47 ESV)
The spiritual blindness of the ‘Christian,’ unregenerate heart is a wonder to behold. It is religious to be sure, but its framework consists of rationalizations that are developed in order to “have Christ” on one’s own terms. It allows for things such as compromises by the professor to “work” in such a way to accumulate wealth or position or both in society. It condones doing ministry in such a way in order become wealthy or famous. The focus is on the temporal. These “fellows” use religiosity as their cash cow.
When discerning Christians challenge their bad theology or their modus operandi, their response can escalate into threats of lawsuits or dirty tricks with the intent to silence their critics. They justify this because they insist they are only protecting their livelihood. By this they are also ‘justifying’ how they do their ministries. However, according to God’s Word, this sort of thing is nothing new as we see in Luke 20:46-47 above, which tells us the scribes of Jesus’ day were using their “office” to devour widows’ houses. Our Lord tells us here also that these were the teachers of the people, but they did their ministries from a motivation of self-aggrandizement. This is religion for wealth and self-elevation in the eyes of the people.
Look at John 6:24-37, which is at the top of this post as well. Our Lord had miraculously fed these people just the day before. They sought Him because they wanted more bread not to be His disciples. He tells them in these verses and the passages that follow what the high cost of discipleship really is and those who are His do not labor for what perishes (the temporal), but for the eternal.
Think of the “best-selling Christian” authors in our day who make millions by writing what the masses want to hear regardless of the veracity of what they teach. These people have actually sold their ministries for 30 pieces of silver. Judas Iscariot was religious for the moneybag (John 12:6). These authors have developed their ministries by addressing what the unregenerate professing Christians want to hear, which is that their false form of Christianity is actually valid. Money flows to these authors and their ministries because their books are snapped up and this leads to being paid to be guest speakers, et cetera. However, they do not dare preach and teach the genuine Gospel and what genuine discipleship is because this would end their run at the money.
Selling Jesus is a great sin. Those who do this are attempting to use a “ministry” in order to become rich in the things of this world. Their focus will never be within the bounds in Orthodoxy. No, they must always stretch the truth even to the point of combining the religions of man with their version of Christianity. They attempt to align their messages with the what is hot in society or within a certain target age-group. Their philosophy, which they push in all their messages, is always centered and lined up that which is prevalent in society such as relativism and existentialism.
Examine yourselves my brethren. Are you ministering for God’s glory alone? Are you focused on the eternal rather than the temporal? Are you ministering because that is your career or are you a slave of your Lord? We must repent of the things in which we become absorbed by temporal focus and are motivated in our ministries by any thing other than God’s glory alone. We must be obedient to our Lord even if it means serving Him in ways and areas where the only one who knows what we are doing is Him.
Soli Deo Gloria!