You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.' The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease." -- John 3:28-30 (ESV)
Anything that distracts from Christ works against the cause of the Gospel. That includes me. That includes you. That especially includes anyone who claims to be a preacher or teacher of the Word. John the Baptists understood this truth in our key verses today. You see up until the point that Jesus came on the scene; John was a pretty important fellow. Everyone came to him to be baptized. Here we find in the third chapter of the Apostle John's Gospel the followers of John the Baptist seem upset at best and downright jealous about the fact that now people were going to Christ to be baptized instead of them. John's answer in the key verses are a humbling reminder to us in ministry that it really is not about us. We must rejoice greatly at the voice of the Bridegroom! He makes our joy complete! Most importantly we see the inverse relationship of being a follower of the Messiah -- I must decrease because He must increase. Jesus does not need you to be His wingman. He does not need you to be His co-pilot. He needs you to make the cause about Him -- which means we must decrease.
What do we see today instead however? The purpose-driven churchianity model creates cult of personality pastors who are too big to fail. The stage is theirs. The spotlight is theirs. The attention is theirs. Jesus? He may make a cameo appearance but this is about them beloved. Don't believe me? Just check out any of the books they write and see whose face is on the cover. This model of leadership creates a very self-centered church that is inwardly focused instead of heavenly targeted. There is real damage when your pastor makes the bible to be about you. Beloved you are not David facing down your giant. If we are anyone, we are the cowering Israelites. Do you know who David is in that story? Jesus. He is a type of Christ and when we think He is us, we miss Christ. It seems every week the evangelical world plays a game of can you top that crazy. Let us look at just two stories from this week that brilliantly displays this egotistical, shallow and narcissistic Christianity.
John Gray made news this week when he posted an Instagram video of him giving his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini for their anniversary. Yes you read that right. Social media blew up with correct criticism of this and of course with the same old tired defenses. The fact that this has to be explained at all is a damming statement on the state of the church. This is however a natural outgrowth of the prosperity gospel, word faith, and many other active heresies. Let us not lose sight that Gray made his bones as an associate pastor for Joel Osteen. Who better to teach the luxury of excess as something to aspire to from the pulpit? Recently Gray was given the senior pastorship of Relentless Church, formerly Redemption Church. Let us reason together through his tortured defenses in the above linked article:
'"God helped me to make my wife's dream come true," he wrote in an Instagram post Tuesday night. "Why not? She's made mine come true!" By Thursday, he was on Facebook Live, tearing up at times as he defended his decision and said the sport utility vehicle was bought with "not a nickel, not a penny" of his salary from the church or other church money. "My wife has pushed for my dreams and my vision, and she has toiled with a man who is still trying to find himself," Gray said. "That carries a weight. I wanted to honor her for how she's covered me."' -- John Gray
Please John, do not blame God for your carnal decisions. He did no such thing. He gave you the ability and opportunity to make money and you then decided what to do with it, which is your right as an American. Of course, your citizenship is not supposed to be American anymore. It is supposed to be in heaven with your mind on kingdom matters. Secondly, your wife's dream was to own a Lamborghini? I will leave that right there and move on to this tired defense from millionaire pastors who defend themselves by saying they did not spend the congregational money on their lavishness. While that small sacrifice may be commended, exactly who do you think is buying all of your books sir? The same congregations you think you are not taking from. So spare me the "I scratched and saved" defense when most people in your church are living paycheck to paycheck if that.
'His wife, Aventer Gray, defended her husband Sunday in her own Instagram post, saying he gives away cars and furniture as well as coats off his back in addition to tithing to the church. The pastor recently said that people in need, especially widows and veterans, should take money from the church's donation baskets. "I don't see anyone screaming about how basketball players drive what they do while you paying $$$ to see them play in arenas and on fields," she wrote on Instagram. "We don't live for people! We live for God!"'