Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Burden of Self-Exaltation

I haven't figured out a lot of things about ministry. One of the things I have definitely not figured out is the tension between spreading the fame of Jesus and spreading the fame of yourself - or your church. It would seem that one must sell yourself or sell your church as a means of "selling" Jesus. At least that seems to be the way things are usually done by "successful" churches.

But I am haunted by a couple of quotes:

"Missionaries are very human folks, simply a bunch of nobodies trying to exalt somebody." - Jim Elliot

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!" (Psalms 115:1)

How do I stay in the background while moving Jesus into the foreground? Elliot and the Psalmist agree that self-exaltation is the very thing to avoid. Yet the tribal people had to meet Jesus "through" Elliot - and those that would follow him.

Elliot had a "go and tell" orientation to ministry. When you "go and tell" you have to lead with Jesus. We have a "come and see" orientation. Not a bad thing - Jesus told people to "come and see". But when we market a "come and see" ministry to people we inevitable end up telling them to come and see "us". And so we must market and promote ourselves.

So, how do I spread the fame of Jesus while avoiding spreading the fame of Tom? Maybe the answer is being so caught up with the glory of Christ I am blissfully forgetful of myself as I passionately pursue the renown of Christ. Yes, people may look askance at this "wild man", but they won't look long before they see the one a lot wilder than me!

As Elliot also said:

"Forgive me Lord for being so ordinary while serving such an extraordinary God."

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