42 Nevertheless, many did believe in Him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, so they would not be banned from the synagogue. 43 For they loved praise from men more than praise from God. (John 12:42-43 HCSB)
I was looking at my Facebook timeline today when I happened across an advertisement for an upcoming religious event. The featured speaker is one who would be well known if I mentioned the name. What bothered me most, was the photo (shown above) being used to advertise the upcoming event. It obviously was taken at a past event and depicted the speaker standing on the stage among a house full of worshippers.
Before I go any further, I acknowledge that I do not know the circumstances of what was being said, what the motives were, or any other details of the picture. Everything may have been perfectly in order.
With that said, I’m a little uncomfortable with the picture because of the two-fold temptation that exists. First, it creates an atmosphere where the crowd could be more focused on the stage personality than on God. It is very clearly idolatry when we focus more on the messenger than the Message. It is very dangerous to create a human focal point upon which every eye is fixed. It would be very easy to place the stage personality on a unhealthy pedestal. Second, the stage personality is put in a position where he or she could become intoxicated by the adulation of the crowd–even if it is not meant for him/her. As a pastor, and one who has stood before congregations large and small, I can attest to the temptation to think more highly of oneself than is acceptable. Scripture sends a strong warning about this. 3 For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. (Romans 12:3 HCSB)
Before you stop reading because you think I’m being foolish, let me suggest that this kind of thing happens all the time. It’s been happening for years. Consider Paul’s warning to the Corinthians…
2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, because you were not yet ready for it. In fact, you are still not ready, 3 because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like unbelievers? 4 For whenever someone says, “I’m with Paul,” and another, “I’m with Apollos,” are you not unspiritual people? 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:2-7 HCSB)
John also addresses the issue of misplaced affections when he writes, “they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” WOW! These people were more interested in the glory of man than the glory of God. Amazing!
I’m not angry, bitter, judgmental, jealous… I just think we all need to make sure that we always keep human vessels where they belong. They (we) are humble servants of the Most High God. HE deserves the glory! Not man… In your quest for spiritual maturity, seek the Kingdom of God… Seek the Savior… Go after Him more than You pursue the big events. While these events can certainly be faith-building, they can also be addictive. We tend to navigate to the big names who “ring our bell!” Ok. I get that. I have personal favorites too. But, be careful. I love the words of the old song…
Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
–Helen H. Lemmel
PRAYER: Father, You deserve the glory for all that You are. Help me to always hold You higher than any other. Don’t let me succumb to the temptation to love the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from You! Amen.