I am so thankful for the men which God has brought into my life – sometimes in person, sometimes through books. I still remember the electricity of hearing John Piper preach for the first time. In my mind he had to be at least 6’3”. I was shocked to find he was closer to 3’6”! I could tell you story after story concerning my exact location when for the first time I encountered several other men who have deeply impacted my life. The value of these men in regard to my growth in grace (and sometimes sanity!) can’t be calculated.
But O how dangerous they are to me! How easily I can get fascinated with the road sign! Men who are gifts to point us to Christ can become the object of our fascination. Instead of being a springboard, these men become a waiting room. The whole situation reminds me of God’s word concerning Ezekiel’s ministry
Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them.
A few things lately which have given rise to this concern:
- I saw this today. Apparently someone is making trading cards with theologians.
- The whole clothing line of "[insert theologian]
is my homeboy”
- Sermon Jams. I realize some may find this a harsh criticism. But simply ask yourself what the purpose is of preaching. Are you sitting under the Word while you listen to these? Or do these simply give you are good rush for your workout? Now, let me be quick to say that I really enjoy the "Revival Hymn Edit". But this compilation carries a different emphasis. The music highlights the glory of God, not the ability of men.
At first, I actually laughed at some of them. But later I begin to think about the mentality driving some of these things. There is an element of fascination with men.
And here’s the deceptive thing – it appears you are being God centered because you aren’t making much of men. But again this is an area which needs to be reformulated. God-centeredness is not self-degradation, or the degradation of other men. We often think that the one who is most humble will be the one who talks the worst about men. But even though you are centered on your own unworthiness, you are still centered on self.
Lightly esteeming the preaching of God’s man will produce a light attitude in the pursuit of holiness. You begin listening to preachers for the rush you feel when they scathe a crowd of 5000, or their ability to draw fascinating insights out of obscure texts. Their voices are fine tuned instruments and how we love to listen! But are you being changed into Christlikeness? Do you leave books and sermons to find a place to be alone with God?
Do you listen to sermons, read books, and fellowship with men for the sole reason of communing with and glorying in Christ? If not, all of the knowledge you have attained is a waste. Your insights are rot. Your Calvinism is dead weight in the Kingdom of God. The men which so hold your fascination will rise one day to condemn you, stating you never understood anything they preached because you missed the whole point - Christ!
I know a balance is needed. And we must not take ourselves and others too seriously. On the other hand we must not treat lightly the things of God. I assure you I feel the weight of my own short-coming as I write these words.