There’s a subtle trap in much of Christianity today, and it is as old as book of James. We’ve got a lot of emphasis on turning up for meetings, but not a lot of emphasis on checking whether people are ACTUALLY DOING what the Word of God says. Going to lots of meetings is NOT a substitute for doing the things that God commands – and there are a lot of them that can only be done OUTSIDE of church meetings.
James 1:22 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
I’m thankful for people that go to Christian meetings where the Word of God is preached, and we all need that. However, there is a shocking lack of personal coaching for Christians. Honestly, how concerned are we for the people we know on the issue of whether they are actually DOING what the Lord tells us to do through His Word.
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” I hear someone cry?
Many pastors are barely at the point where they are taking account of who is coming to meetings and who is not. I can tell you now – the level of spiritual discernment is often so low that many leading pastors cannot even tell if one of their team is a practicing homosexual. I heard a story about this last night concerning a prominent minister in the Assemblies of God in Australia who certainly did not pick it up. Not that we have been perfect. It happened to us once when we were pastoring in Romania. We trusted someone because they were sent to us from a leading charismatic church in Timisoara – the guy turned out to be bi-sexual. It took us a while to discover it. Sometimes these things are never discovered. God help us when we are so spiritually blind that we NOT ONLY have little idea of how the people in our churches are doing spiritually – we also can’t discern MAJOR problems in our own team.
In short, we assume that people are doing the Word of God, but we don’t check. And in not checking, we are being negligent shepherds. Shepherds should know about the condition of the sheep. They should know if they have diseases, if they have been attacked by wolves, if they are about to die. God has some hard things to say to shepherds who are busy feeding themselves and don’t deeply care for “the sheep” – the people for whom Christ died and paid the ultimate ransom price.
Nowadays, far from knowing the condition of the sheep, we barely know the condition of the “shepherds”.
Pastors, Jesus did not die on a cross and rise again so that you could have a collection of people to speak to and raise money from. There is a higher purpose than that.
Let us think. If God wants a people conformed to the nature and power of Jesus Christ, how are we doing? Are we working with God, or are we settling for something else. Are we serving God or ourselves, even in the ministry?
The only way to know how people are really doing is NOT to check attendance and giving records. It is in SPENDING TIME with people and LISTENING TO THEM. It is in training others TO DO GOD’s WORD and TRAIN THE NEXT GENERATION OF DISCIPLES. It is in teaching and training them to do “all things that I [Jesus] have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19,20).
Pastors and disciples of Jesus: ask yourself questions like these in evaluating the spiritual condition of your people.
1. Are they hearing the Word of God?
2. Are their lives free from the love of money, pride and the lust of the flesh – pornography, masturbation, adultery etc. ?
3. Are they active in sharing their faith?
4. Is there evidence that they are hearing the voice of God in the form of the gifts of the Holy Spirit – and using them?
5. Do they have a prayer life?
6. Do they have love for the brethren? What makes you think so?
7. Are they running after dangerous doctrines?
8. Is there evidence that they have a living faith which moves the heart of God?
If the answer to any of these questions is “No” then it shows us that we have work cut out for ourselves.
We need people today who will invest time in helping people get to where they need to be in God.
Shepherds must give an account for the people they are watching over (Hebrews 13:17). So don’t lust after a big church ministry if you are not interested in doing this. It could get you in big trouble on judgement day with God.