For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. - Revelation 3: 17 (ESV)
The website main page screams - "Favor! Supernatural Advantage!" Another has a graphic of a heartbeat EKG readout with the word "Revive" emblazoned across it. Overflow, elevate, victory. You see a positive word and it has probably been adopted by a church as its power word for the year. This seems to be a growing trend in evangelical churches today. It's as if someone got a hold of a Joel Osteen sermon and divided up the words amongst the church leaders. Throughout the year then the church uses their chosen word as a rallying point with its attendees. Who would not want to attend a church where you gain a supernatural advantage over the folks from that unmotivated church down the street? You know, the one that prays and fasts. The one that preaches the Gospel. The one that doesn't have a marketing budget because they do not have a vision beyond Scripture. Booooooooorrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnggggggggg.
I know, I know. I am such a killjoy these days. Is there anything specifically wrong per se with having a word to embrace as a congregation? Absolutely not. I just think it is interesting that the words that have been chosen reveal the carnal thinking of the church today. Let's be honest with one another. This is an advertising gimmick. There is nothing Biblical about it. What does it say though about what the church believes in? What does it say about what the church values? Who are these power words really about?
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. - 1Thessalonians 1: 6-8 (ESV)
Here is the Apostle Paul commending the church at Thessalonica for their "power words" - faith, joy and affliction. They became an example to all believers in other areas. What example are we striving to set today? That we can gain a supernatural advantage? That we have the edge on others through some special favor? That our blessings just cannot be contained? That we can go higher and higher? I am sorry if this seems a bit like splitting hairs but all of the power words listed in here are related to us. We get elevated. We get the overflow. We have the victory. We gain the advantage. We have the favor. Make no mistake about it, in many churches like this it is about "we" instead of Him. I take you back a few months ago and the words of Victoria Osteen:
"I just want to encourage us to realize when we obey God, we are not doing it for God. I mean that is one way to look at it. We are doing it for ourselves. Because God takes pleasure when we are happy. That's the thing that gives Him the greatest joy this morning. So I want you to know this morning - just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church. When you worship. You're not doing that for God really. You're doing it for yourself. Because that's what makes God happy. Amen?"
Now, a lot of people rightly criticized the Osteens over these remarks, which they stood by. But was she saying something different than they preach every week? No. The truth of the matter is that Victoria Osteen was just being more honest than most are willing to be about their own church and their own beliefs. If we seek out churches where the worship is about how special we are then we are not doing it for God. If we seek out preachers who refuse to discuss sin and repentance then we are doing it for ourselves. If we seek out a church where the word for the year is abundance instead of faith, then we are probably in agreement with Victoria Osteen. We are doing this for ourselves thinking God just wants us happy. He was willing to watch His only Son be brutalized to death on our behalf but He just wants us to be comfy and cozy.
I chose the key verse from Revelation because the Laodicean Church is so close to where we are today. They say I am RICH! We say, I am FAVORED. I am ELEVATED. I am VICTORIOUS! I-me, I-me, I-me. Yet while they choose the power word that makes them feel the best about themselves they cannot see the spiritual truth behind their carnal lies. They can no longer see that they are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. They cannot see it. Just try telling that to a congregant of a carnal focused church. They will not see it. Because they are so focused on what God can do for them that they fail to see what He already has done.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God." - John 3: 16-21 (ESV)
Here is the sad truth many fail to see. All these power words are powerless from an eternal perspective because they are applying them temporally. For example, we already have a supernatural advantage of favor. It is called Calvary. God already reconciled us back to Him and we have the promise of an eternity with God. How much more favor do you need? But it is being applied by the church here in relation to temporal blessings. More goodie bags for me because I go to church? Talk about missing the forest for the trees. The same goes for any of the other power words used. They are used in relation to what God can give me temporally instead of what He has already given me eternally. How profoundly sad. You want a power word? How about salvation! How about regeneration! How about sanctification! How about justification! How about prayer? How about awe? How about reverence? How about inerrant? How about omnipotent? Omnipresent? Omniscient? Savior? Redeemer?
How about Jesus?
You remember Him"don't you?