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Monday, December 15, 2014

You Can Do Everything Right and Still Get Crucified

I have read a lot of books on church growth. I believed that I could grow a huge church if I just did the right things.

I dreamed of having a church so huge that I needed a golf cart to get to the pulpit. The people would stand in line to hear me preach. The lucky ones would get in with the others being turned away. The altar would fill with repentant sinners who desperately wanted to get saved under my preaching. The saved would come forward so that I could autograph my latest book. The offerings would be so big that I would have to beg the people to give somewhere else but, of course, they wouldn't listen. Other churches would beg me to come preach so that their churches could get on track. I would humbly fit them into my schedule and see revivals break out wherever I preached. Even God would think Himself fortunate to have me working with Him. The angels would regularly visit me to give me strength so that I could preach more than five times every day.

None of that happened.

I work very hard. I pray. I have fasted for forty days three times. I study, visit the sick, call on potential church members, share the gospel regularly and see very little fruit for my labors. I have come to the conclusion that some people are much better at what I do than I am. I have come to the realization that I am living up to my potential but my potential is not as high as I thought it was.

Am I a failure? Yes. That has to be the answer. Falling short of your goal is the definition of failure. If my goal was to write a book and I never wrote it; I failed. If my goal was to grow a church and the churches I serve don't grow; I failed. I still baptize saved souls but I just don't do it like I hoped I would.

At first, I made excuses. I was always in the wrong church. I needed to find that church and community which would embrace my preaching and vision for growth. That was never the problem.

But this isn't the important part. I don't have to be a success in my own eyes or even in those who know me. I have to be a success to the Lord. He asks me for my whole heart. I work on being completely committed to Him. I don't always succeed here but I am much better at being committed to the Lord than I am in reaching my earlier goals in life.

Years ago I heard an evangelist lament over how little influence he had. Personally, I thought he was wonderful. He had a tremendous influence on me. I so loved his preaching that I asked to be able to preach like him someday. God told me that I would have to drink out of the same cup as he drank. I agreed that I would. Maybe that's what I am doing now.

Maybe there is someone I am influencing who is changed so radically that he or she will bring thousands to know the Lord. That's a nice thought.

My bellyaching didn't escape the notice of my Lord. He heard me complaining to myself about myself and said to me, "Do you think I was a failure?"

Now what kind of question is that? Of course, I can't say that Jesus was a failure.

"You can do everything right and still get crucified."

I suppose you can do everything right and still die in anonymity. I wonder how many thousands of preachers whose names I have never heard were absolutely faithful to their Lord. Their reward didn't come because they wrote books are had a huge preaching ministry. Their reward came when they entered heaven.

I think I have been a little short sighted. I was aiming at something that will pass and forgetting about something that will last. Faithfulness is all the Lord is looking for. The world just may crucify you for it.

Jeremiah 17:10 (ESV)
10  “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

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