A model preacher has been found to suit everyone. He preaches exactly 20 minutes. He condemns sin but never hurts anyone. He works from 8:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. in every type of work, from preaching to custodial service. He makes $60.00 a week, wears good clothes, reads books regularly, has a nice family, drives a good car, and gives $100.00 a week to the church. He also stands ready to contribute to every good work. He is 26 years old and has been preaching for 30 years! He is tall, short, thin, heavyset, handsome yet not too attractive. He has one brown eye and one blue; hair parted in the middle, left side dark and straight, the right side brown and wavy. He has a burning desire to work with teenagers and spends all his time with older folk. He smiles with a straight face because his sense of humor keeps him seriously dedicated to his work! He makes 15 calls a day to church members, spends all his time evangelizing the un-churched, and he’s never out of the office!
The perfect preacher. Does he preach at your church? He certainly doesn’t preach at Faith Village!
Today in our adult Bible classes at Faith Village, we’re continuing our study of 1st Corinthians and beginning chapter four. So far throughout the book, Paul has warned (and rebuked) the church at Corinth at least twice for following preachers more than Jesus—for following those who baptized them more than the One they were baptized for. Paul clearly explains neither he, Apollos, or Peter were nothing—just mere men. Christ was everything—the Son of God. So Paul begins chapter four with this same sentiment, “…men out to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.” (1st Corinthians 4:1) Servants and messengers. That’s all they were. Nothing more and nothing less.
However, the “preacher” in me really appreciates the self-defense Paul provides in the next few verses. He tells the church at Corinth, “I care very little if I am judged by you…” (1st Corinthians 4:3) The Corinthians struggled to believe Paul was a credible voice and legitimate apostle. He wasn’t called by the Sea of Galilee like Peter and John. He didn’t walk away from his tax booth like Matthew. He didn’t walk and talk with Jesus for three years. Paul probably never met Jesus until Jesus spoke from Heaven on the road to Damascus. Therefore, Paul defends his apostleship and authoritative voice in 1st Corinthians 9. All in all, Paul faced the situation posed at the beginning of this article. Some said Paul was great. Others said Paul was worthless. And everyone had their own opinion of what Paul should be. That’s why Paul says, “I care very little if you judge me…” Why? It wasn’t because Paul had a thick skin. It was because Paul knew their thoughts really didn’t matter. One, they were “worldly” rather than “spiritual” (1st Corinthians 3:1), so how warranted was their critique anyway; but more than that, the Corinthians didn’t commission Paul to be an apostle. They didn’t give him the message to preach. God did. Therefore, only God’s evaluation of him mattered. Paul went on to say, “I don’t even judge myself…” (1st Corinthians 3:1) Why? For the same reason. It didn’t matter if Paul thought he was doing a superb job or a lousy job, only God’s evaluation mattered.
Here’s where it really matters for all of us. Even though the church has “ministers” who enter full-time, located ministry as their life’s work and profession, all Christians are indeed “ministers”—“servants”—“messengers”. Therefore, we all live in a glass house.
We’re pretty talented at “compare and contrast” in the church. We make ourselves feel better or worse about ourselves based on someone else’s work or lack thereof. Let’s remember there’s no such thing as a “perfect preacher”—a “perfect Christian”. And more than that, may we always believe the only evaluation which really matters doesn’t stem from this life, but the life to come. It’s not a horizontal assessment, but vertical. It is the Lord who judges us.
So keep working—keep dreaming—keep serving and giving your best. One day, the true analysis, from the true Analyst will come.