“And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites!” (Matt. 15:6-7)
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27-28)
We hear inspiring sermons all the time concerning the costs of following Jesus. Passionate preachers get up behind pulpits each weekend, and preach to thousands in vast temples across this land about the traps Satan has set for us in succumbing to the wealth, comfort, and security we have enjoyed for generations here in Laodicea [America]. They write books and lead seminars on the costs of taking up our crosses, denying ourselves, and risking alienation from our friends – inviting the vitriol of the world if we truly want to follow. They preach about how it will cost us everything, including all of the aforementioned comforts we have come to enjoy, to be true disciples of Christ.
Why is it after so much of this “correct,” inspired teaching do the polls tell us it means little to around 95% of those nodding in agreement and offering hearty “amens” to it all? It is for the simple reason the settings these people preach and teach from reveal them to be hypocrites to their own message. It could be likened to someone promoting gun control appearing on stage dressed up like Rambo, or a recovering alcoholic warning about the evils of addiction from a bar or a liquor store. There is a reason Jesus preached from boats, on hilltops, and in fields, homes, and in the streets. Though He had the richest, most inspired, most passionate preaching of anyone, he didn’t want the environments He delivered His words in to contradict them. Paul put it this way, “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27).
When we “hold to our traditions” of delivering warnings of succumbing to the trappings of the world from lavish temples dedicated to the very things we’re warning about, we “invalidate the Word of God” we are speaking. Jesus said His sheep would not only hear His voice [preaching], but they would follow His lead [example]. If we are trying to lead His people away from the trappings of the world with words spoken within buildings that set a diametrically opposed example, the teaching and preaching becomes hypocritical. Until shepherds forsake the trappings of the world, their words will continue to fall on the deaf ears of those they are trying to save from it. Sheep “hear words AND follow the examples of their shepherds,” and if what they see doesn’t line up with what they hear they remain confused and lost.
Speakers and teachers, when invited to minister somewhere check your WWJD bracelet, and try doing what Jesus did. When travelling take coach instead of first class, stay with one of the families you’re going to be ministering to instead of a $200/night hotel, and eat a home cooked meal or two instead of $50./plate restaurants. The plane will get you there just as fast, the bed will be just as comfortable, the food will fill you up, the fellowship will be far, far better, and you will leave a lasting impression on at least one family in the flock. And if you’re going to be preaching in a $10, 20, or 30MM temple designed to impress the flesh, just forget any discussion of being weary of the love of money or the sacrifices involved in following Jesus.
Our Lord was show and tell. It’s what He came to do. God had been “preaching” at His people for thousands of years, and they didn’t get it until He sent His Son to “show” us who He was and the Spirit to bring it all together to make sense. Then they heard and saw, so they could follow. Jesus lived every message He taught, and that’s why people bought in. They could “see and follow,” and His “traditions” of piety and humility didn’t “invalidate God’s Word” with the stench of hypocrisy. But if you insist on all those trappings, do us all a favor and preach about prosperity and abundance. Then at least we will believe you, because the message will line up with the witness. Oh, we’ll still be caught up in worldliness and lost to the true message of Jesus, but at least we will believe you.