“As long as people are impressed by your powerful personality and impressive gifts, there is very little room for you to impress them with a crucified Savior.”
~ D. A. Carson in The Cross and Christian Ministry, page 39.
Christ’s School of Affliction
“It is then, we say, in the successive stages of his experience, that the believer sees more distinctly, and adores more profoundly, and grasps more firmly, the finished righteousness of Christ. And what is the school in which he learns his nothingness, his poverty, his utter destitution? The school of deep and sanctified affliction. In no other school is it learned, and under no other teacher but God. Here his high thoughts are brought low, and the Lord alone is exalted.”
– Octavius Winslow (HT: Of First Importance)
[Mark Driscoll] shows that idols lie to us by presenting themselves as Saviors and mediators who can give us identity and make us righteous. But in reality they dishonor God and destroy people.
Driscoll asks 11 questions about ministry idolatry in particular:
- Attendance idolatry: Does your joy change when your attendance does?
- Gift idolatry: Do you feel that God needs you and uses you because you are so skilled?
- Truth idolatry: Do you consider yourself more righteous than more simple Christians?
- Fruit idolatry: Do you point to your success as evidence of God’s approval of you?
- Method idolatry: Do you worship your method as your mediator?
- Tradition idolatry: What traditions are you upholding that are thwarting the forward progress of the gospel?
- Office idolatry: Are you motivated primarily by God’s glory or your title?
- Success idolatry: Is winning what motivates you at the deepest level?
- Ministry idolatry: Do you use the pressure of ministry to make you walk with God?
- Innovative idolatry: Does it matter to you that your ministry be considered unique?
- Leader idolatry: Who, other than Christ, are you imaging?
~ Mark Driscoll (HT: Justin Taylor)
Are You Gospel-Shaped or Just Religious?
3 ways to tell:
1. Your reaction when things fall apart.
Do you catch yourself saying, “God, why is this happening? I’ve done x, y, and z?” Do suffering, difficulty, and obstacles provoke “why?” questions predicated on your goodness or effort? You’ve been working so hard, reading your Bible, going to church, serving others . . . why would God let this happen to you now? If that’s your line of thinking, it reveals you believe God owes you. And that’s religion.
2. Your reaction to others.
Do you compare yourself, bad or good, against others? Do you belittle, mock, condescend, even if just internally? Do you resent others’ successes? Do you celebrate others’ failures? Do you really wish people would get their act together, or do you really wish people knew Jesus? Are you frequently annoyed, put out, irritated, embarrassed, or inconvenienced by others?
3. Your appraisal of Jesus.
Is he your greatest treasure? That’s the number one indicator of gospel-conformity. You may know right off the bat if this is true or not. For some, it’s true only sentimentally or religiously. You may think it’s true ultimately, but your time, talents, words, emotions, and bank account testify differently.