I was in an enlightening conversation recently. The person I was interacting with was on a bit of a roll on a certain issue. At one point they asserted that in the gospel they find self-fulfillment, identity, status, position, value. I chipped in with, “Oh, it’s better than that, in the gospel you get Christ!” That was brushed aside as if He were the means to the end, rather than a treasure surpassing all else.
While we do find fulfillment, identity, etc. in the gospel, it does concern me when someone seems more obsessed with themselves than with Christ. It almost feels as if their hearts are still captivated by the lie of Genesis 3, rather than the God who has done everything to win our hearts back to Him.
Now if that can be true on an individual level, lets multiply that up to the corporate level. In law an organization has “individual” identity through the concept of corporate solidarity. That is why you can stand in court and take on a big corporation, technically as equals. So too a church is not just a collection of people, but has its own identity and even personality. So here’s my question – does our preaching, leading, praying, etc., fuel a Genesis 3 focus on ourselves?
Chatting with a friend he made the observation that in his church there are repeated rebukes concerning meeting attendance, public prayer, etc. The focus seems to be on the church itself, rather than God. He noted that he doesn’t sense much in the way of love for God Himself. If this were questioned, then I expect the response would be indignant, for this is surely a sort of sanctified self-obsession.
So people feel the pressure, maybe God does too. How easy it is to always be praying for God to work in our midst, for God to bless our ministries, for God to reach our community. I wonder if God ever notices when a church is completely incurved in its intercession?
We can pressure people in the church with the focus on the church, and we can pressure God in our prayers with a non-stop focus on the church.
God loves me enough to die for me, but that doesn’t make it right for me to agree that I am special and live my life with my gaze firmly fixed on me. Christ passionately cares about the church, His bride, but that doesn’t mean we should self-obsess as a local expression of that bride so that our gaze is firmly fixed in the wrong direction.
It seems to me that a church that is truly captivated by Christ will be Christ focused in her preaching, her praying, her communication. Surely a church that is truly captivated by Christ will be Christ-like in her love for the other – for Christ, and for His bride (i.e. the competing church down the road), and for the world that God so loves. The orientation of our heart says a lot, and it says it when we open our mouths to speak.