“I’m afraid we are spending more time admiring the beauty of our decorated journaling Bibles than we are reading and being convicted by the Word. We want Christianity to be pretty and aesthetically pleasing, rather than longing for our praise to be pleasing to our King. We are so busy managing our image, we forget dear sister, that we are image bearers.” (The Dangers of Instagram Christianity by Chelsea-Mead)
<< Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! (Psalm 115.1) >>
I will never forget coming home from spending time in Leicester Square (Central London) with an outreach team of Poplar Baptist Church with the co-pastor telling me of a brethren church in Sicily and how they conduct their services. Curtains are drawn on stage to conceal the worship leader and band against the view of the onlooking congregation. This is done intentionally so as not to stumble the congregation and help focus minds off of man and onto the Lord. It certainly got a reaction from me. I raised my eyebrows at first and shook my head in disbelief yet agreement. Bon initiative!
<< For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends (2 Corinthians 10.18) >>
Now let’s take a step back – of course there is nothing wrong with worship bands and leaders being ‘open’ before God and men about their desire to be used by the Lord to lead praises within the church; nevertheless – let us be mindful of pride and self-centredness and a sense of having an ego. I have spoken with my best friend on several occasions on how it is a ‘sin’ within contemporary christian culture to be a young man or woman serving at a local church ‘making it his or her ambition to lead a quiet life’ (1 Thess 4.11) and ‘minding your own business’ running away from the ‘praises of men’ (Prov 27.2) and fiercely refusing a vibrant Instagram or Snapchat account. Furthermore, whilst the world will declare that actions speak louder than words; motives speak louder than actions. Is a love for the Lord and seeing His Name lifted up always at the centre of everything I do?
<< Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips (Proverbs 27.2) >>
As a youth worker; this epidemic is becoming more and more horrific. It is further a sign that the gospel message in it’s raw unadulterated form is needed more than ever. Lights, Camera and Action dominate most ‘stages’ within mainstream and liberal ‘evangelical’ settings. I remember when I was at university – I use to have a big problem with those on social media broadcasting their highlighted notes of scripture, speaking extra-biblical revelation about what the lord had told them; whilst I am now aware this is erroneous and hugely in error; it still illustrates the desire of what the Lord has done in ‘my life, my legacy and with my image’ whilst the gospel message is centrally about not what He is doing or will do – but what He did at the Cross.
<< And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4.8) >>
Please be encouraged that it is not the one who approves himself that is commended; but rather it is the one whom the LORD commends. How is it related to you and other young Christians: we live in a day and age where the world says the opposite of the Beatitudes in Matt 5 ‘Blessed are the driven’, Blessed are the ‘out there’, Blessed are ‘the popular’, Blessed are ‘the strong’, the re-tweeted, the commercial, the social, the savvy, the rebellious, the self centred, moderately religious and the godless’. Young Christians and older Christians alike – please be encouraged that the Bible encourages all believers that blessed are the dependant, the misfits, the christ centric, unpopular, unworthy, unknown to man but known to God, blessed are the emptied, heaven-yearning, sin hating and Christ residing. Blessed are those who recognise that the world is not their home. Happy are the sad (Matt 5.3) I’ll explain this later (Matt 5.3, 2 Cor 10.18, Prov 27.2)
<< The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise (Proverbs 27.2) >>
Imagine walking through a street market, and suddenly you meet a group of people with all their shopping dropped to the ground observing and staring valiantly with binoculars to the skies pointing upwards; I imagine before they are labelled and stared at; passers by will first look up to see what they looking at before at calling them ‘weirdos’ or even descriptions with more colourful language. In the same way; this is what a biblical church is to look like. A church that is modest and fearsome in it’s desire that all men decrease and Christ and Christ alone is to be exalted. A place where Christ and His Word and His Propitiation and Testimonies of His Grace and His Death and His Resurrection is to be so preached and so exalted that when observers and the unsaved pass by; they will first look up ponder ‘who is that?’, ‘who is up there?’, ‘who is this person?’ Both to the lay member and the preacher, both to the elder and the cleaner, both to the youth worker and the worship leader – it is only about thing: Christ.
Let’s pray that the whole body will seek to be captivated in awe by perfect work of the perfect person of Jesus Christ.