This week I have been thinking out loud about how we can fall into the trap of separating the Bible and aspects of preaching from the work of the Spirit. This is a dangerous divorce in ministry. I’ve thought about this in terms of Bible study and sermon preparation. I’ve pondered it in respect to sermon content and sermon delivery. One lingering thought remains…
There is a dangerous temptation for some to separate themselves from personal accountability by presenting things under the label of the Holy Spirit.
Maybe you’ve had one of those conversations with a lovestruck person who tries to hide from their responsibility by saying that God has told them to divorce their spouse and marry that other person’s spouse. Or maybe the single who has the exception clause that God has told them to marry that person who has no regard for the Lord (but suddenly has a tenuous Christian connection through ancestry or somehow is a seeker whose salvation can be guaranteed). It is so frustrating to pastor somebody hiding behind the shield of untouchability, because, after all, well, you wouldn’t want to argue with God, would you?
The same thing applies the other way around. Listeners can be frustrated by preachers who claim God told them what to preach on, but then the message bears no thumbprint of God’s deep and fresh work in the preacher or the preaching. Followers can grow weary of every decision a leader makes being the fruit of their personal heavenly hotline that therefore can never be questioned. Surely the fruit of the Spirit should lead to deeper relational connections, not to greater relational superficiality?
By all means be someone who prays and longs to hear from God. Be someone that only wants to do what the Spirit empowers. Be someone that has a close and real walk with the Lord. But don’t hide yourself from any personal responsibility by making that a shield behind which you hide.
As we move into 2012, let’s be preachers and leaders who walk very closely with the Lord, who saturate our ministry and lives in prayer, who yearn to know God more closely and please Him more profoundly. But let’s not protect ourselves from potentially legitimate correction, instruction, and accountability from others by inappropriately hiding behind a front of unquestionable spirituality.