Would it be cheating if a minister took steroids, in one form or another, to help them preach better? Would it make church newsletter headlines throughout the religious ranks if one got caught doing so? Would rank and file ministers force denominational leaders to call on the carpet the one suspected of substance abuse it is appeared to them that the church cheating advanced the Gospel more through that one to the distinct disadvantage of others?
I can just imagine the stir it would cause at local ministerial meetings if a colleague took up with alternate power sources to enhance their preaching performances.
“Look, guys!” says the up-nosed pastor. “There he is. Look how muscular his GI Joe jaws are! He is bound to be on some sort of PED (Premillinnial Exegesis Drug). There is absolutely no way he can attribute that to diet and mastication exercises.”
The jealous country-church pastor responds, “Yes, I have noticed the change in him from last year. But, the thing that has me bothered is his elevated and outlandish vocabulary. His tongue and lips roll out high-philuting terminologies with such annoying eloquence that I have to keep a dictionary handy just to understand what he is saying. Then, there is that upper class accent and exaggerated diction—-he never talked like that before.”
“Furthermore, friends,” intoned the orthodox clergyman, “He is knocking out preached sermons on an unprecedented pace. It is almost like his mouth never gets tired of preaching. It is reported he preached over 5000 sermons this past year. He could not do that unless he was juiced or creamed with some sort of cheating substance.”
“He definitely has an unfair advantage over the rest of us, Brother Pastors,” adds the minister of the church of many religions. If this keeps up, he will be preaching at all our churches each week, and we will wind up having to become foreign missionaries just to be able to work in the ministry.”
The most important concern from this imaginative scenario has to do with the concern over cheating. We are culturally consumed with those who cheat to gain a perceived advantage. Athletes are the prime culprits, while the same holds true in the drug world at large with people.
But, while there is a constant indignation over presumed and proven cheaters among the self-righteous, we are ignoring where the most critical form of cheating goes on. Each of the ministers described above were absolutely horrified that a kinsman of the cloth may have been involved in ministerial cheating. Yet, they were not considering their own styles and expressions of spiritual cheating.
Such is where the water meets the wheel. Spiritual cheating is rarely a personal matter to question and consider, and, yet, through the ranks of those associated with the Church, personal spiritual cheating goes on all the time without any confession or repentance.
The Church is failing to remember who the more serious cheaters are. It is God on whom we are cheating. Ananias and Sapphira may not have considered their brand of cheating as cheating there in the early church. However, while their obfuscation of the truth may have respectful PR for the furtherance of the Gospel on the one hand, their cheating was clearly not acceptable to God. The scarier part of that Biblical experience is that God knew they were cheating, and God called them on the carpet quickly concerning it.
Cutting to the core is that, if we treat lightly worship, we spiritually cheat God. If we do not give our tithes and offerings, we spiritually cheat God (refer to Malachi 3:8). If we take our God-given financial resources to us for a chance on the lottery, we spiritually cheat God. If we deny Christ by not living out His principles, we spiritually cheat God. If our opinions are not consistent with what God says in His Word, we spiritually cheat God.
These things being true, who are the cheaters? It is time that the people associated with the Church quit spiritually cheating God, and spiritually get right with God.
In the mean time, I know that taking ministerialic steroids is a useless consideration for me. The way I preach is so bad nothing could help me anyway.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.
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