Prophets and Pharisees Part 2 of 5: Is this Kingdom or is this personal?

architecture-3171675_1920In Part 1, “Is it About God or is it About Me?”, we looked at how true prophets must always be concerned that their message is in line with God’s heart and purposes. As people of God, it is incumbent upon us to put God and His Kingdom first instead of ourselves. What does He want? How does it want it accomplished? To be truly effective, we need to die to ourselves, so that Jesus can come alive through us.

This time, we are going to consider a similar, though slightly different, question. In Part 1 we were focused on ourselves and how we feel. In Part 2 it is more about our personal agenda and values.

Pet Peeves

Question 2: Is this Kingdom or is this personal?

We can easily get off track from conveying God’s message when we are uncontrollably passionate or irritated. We all have trigger points, some more than others. Sometimes we transform – at least in our own thoughts – those “pet peeves” into “Thus saith the Lord.” This “inspires” us to rant and rave about something that is often not even in the Bible while totally ignoring other things that God has explicitly called out. More critically it often causes us to value the listener less than the issue.

I remember when I was growing up there was a lot of preaching against cigarettes. Now don’t get me wrong, I would strongly encourage anyone addicted to those nasty things to allow God to set you free. I’ve lost family members to lung cancer and it is no joke. I do not, however, see any direct prohibition against them in the Bible. Yeah, I know, our body is the temple and all that, it’s just interesting how easily we apply that scripture to cigarettes while ignoring overeating (which the Bible does directly condemn), junk food, high carbs, lack of exercise, etc. etc. etc.

I am simultaneously amused and saddened when I see Christians exercising selective outrage on social media. During a particularly contentious gun-control battle, many Christians came out in force to make their opinions known, often backing them up with carefully selected – albeit questionably applied – scriptures. Ironically at the exact same time, there was legislation and judicial action being taken on the topic of marriage – the first institution established by God. On that subject… crickets.

For the record, I am not advocating that Christians can never address personal issues. We just need to be very careful to clarify when we are speaking for God and when we are speaking for ourselves. As Ambassadors of the Kingdom – especially those called to ministry – there are some non-biblical issues we would probably be better off avoiding, even if we are passionate about them.

Among many commandments, the Kingdom has two that sum up all others, “’You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Paul puts it this way when speaking about spiritual gifts:

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-7 NLT)

So, while it may seem expedient to rant and rave about our hot-button issues, it is NOT the way things are done in the Kingdom. God always comes first and people always come next. I’m not even sure where our opinions fit on the list… Anything else is simply out of order.

Before we engage our mouth or hit the submit button, let’s be sure to ask ourselves, “Is this Kingdom, or is this Personal?


Next Time: “Is My Attitude In Line With God’s Heart?”

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