“6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isa 9:6.
The man Jesus whose birth we are celebrating this weekend has over 200 titles, names and courtesies recorded in the bible. He is not only the most powerful man alive (in the sense of his physical state), He is also the most decorated and honored being in all eternity. Yet He chose to begin His life on this earth by being born in the same space as livestock animals and unto the simplest of parents at that time.
In living out His life and carrying out His ministry he lived and walked in perfect humility, for “He grew up without form nor comeliness, neither was there anything in His appearance that we should desire him…isa 53:2” With the exception of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem , He almost always discouraged any adulation/worship/obeisance; rather choosing to blend in with His ‘friends’ so well that it was almost impossible to tell him apart were it not for the kiss of betrayal.
Oh how very different many of us who proclaim ourselves his chosen ‘shepherds’ carry ourselves today. These days were all about the form & comeliness! It used to be that it was just the orthodox churches who practiced honorifics as a matter of religion, But today even the protestants are at the vanguard of these vain practices.
2 weeks ago a great tragedy occurred in the capital city of Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria.
Many lives were needlessly lost when a church building collapsed upon ‘worshippers’ who gathered to celebrate the ‘Bishopric Consecration Service’ of the church founder.
Well the 1st question is this….Where was Jesus?
(How could He have allowed this to happen?)
His promise in Matt 18:20 that ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ is one of the most misconstrued scriptures by Churches today.
Our gathering has to be ‘In His name’ if it is to warrant His attendance. It’s all too clear that many of our programs, crusades, meetings & gatherings these days are for every other purpose under the sun other than ‘in the name of Jesus’. It’s not enough to just slap on the name of Jesus as a sticker to our meetings and think that’s enough justification to assemble men. To gather in his name is to have him be the purpose and true motive for our meeting:
- We come together to exalt and worship Him, (minister to Him)
- We gather to learn from him and be taught by Him through the mouth of his chosen vessels.
- We organize crusades and evangelical meetings to advance the cause of His kingdom
by winning souls to be added to his kingdom (not about increasing church membership)
- Every gathering in his name must have either an Apostolic, Prophetic, Pastoral,
Evangelical, or Teaching tone to it.
These days though: Politicians are usually given centre-stage at our meetings. Governors are invited to the pulpit to campaign and talk shop. We retain the primary seats for them in violation of James 2:4. Even regular sunday services now has comedians invited to provide ‘entertainment’as we have nothing else to teach, in the course of their ‘entertaining’ often blaspheming the name of Christ and the gifts of the Spirit to the general applause and laughter of the congregants! It is to our shame!
As church leaders and shepherds, when we bring His people together to clap for us and celebrate our ‘elevation’ we err. It was errors like this that led the likes of Martin Luther and others to set the tone for the great apostolic reformation which was the foundation for Protestantism. However things are coming full circle now as the protestants of today have seized these very vanities from the orthodox churches and are executing a more ‘stylized’ version of the same vanities.
Jesus has no obligation to attend any meeting where He is not front and center. When he walked the earth He never gathered anybody together for any other purpose other than the Kingdom. Even when the multitude gathered around Him, once it became clear that their motives were becoming about the ‘Carnal’ and not ‘Spiritual’, He always withdrew himself apart from them.
The main reference we have in the new testament bible as regards gathering to ‘ordain’ & ‘send forth’ occurs in Acts chapter 13 regarding Paul & Barnabas.
“Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers;
as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away”. Act 13:1-3
We get a clear sense of ‘solemnity’ in this gathering. In the early church when men were ordained in this manner it was with deep conviction and consideration, not unto fanfare and media coverage like they have ‘attained a new rank’ but rather unto the voice of the Holy Ghost.
Does the Holy Ghost still have a voice in our meetings? Is he even invited?
When we as parishioners and members also join in the fanfare are we not also complicit?
Why the love of Titles anyways?
When a man genuinely follows Christ, one of the things that the cross which He is carrying will kill is His ‘personal ambition’ and any love for ‘spotlight’. The pride of Life is something that the cross will need to terminate in us if were to produce any lasting fruit in God’s service.
7 years ago I had a series of dreams which pointed very clearly at the calling of God.
One particular period i began having dreams in which i often saw myself before crowds of thousands in stadia with the power for God moving mightily, but as I woke up one morning I heard the audible voice of the Lord very clearly say to me ‘BE CAREFUL FOR FAME’. Once had the Lord spoken on that matter, but that warning has re-echoed in my heart every year since.
The closer you draw to the Lord and the more his gifts and power work through your life the more dangerous it is for you. For pride is a very subtle and deadly enemy which even disguises itself under false humility.
I have been to programs where I have seen ‘servants of God’ invited to the stage with such pomp and bombastic titles that serve no other purpose than self-adulation. There are men of God whose ‘aides’ give advance notice to churches as to what the correct sequence of their masters titles should be. There are also men who take offence when they are not ‘acknowledged’ in the right order or ‘revered’ as is their due. All these things are far apart from the character and example of Jesus Christ.
Anytime we see the apostles like Paul and Peter refer to themselves, its with a sense of deep humility & responsibility:
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God”
“Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, …..”, 1 Co 1:1
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” 2 Co 1:1
“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ” 2Pe 1:1
There are some ridiculous honorifics: Bishop (Dr) Evangelist, Primate (Dr) Prophet….
They tack these titles on like it were scout badges. However studied that Paul was he considered every honorific before he came to Christ as loss, and rather chose to point to the marks of Christ that he has borne through sufferings. Our former titles ought to be loss (not even referenced), neither should we ascribe any new titles beyond what we really are ..privileged servants.
Is everyone bad?
No! There are still a lot of true servants who grow further in humility every year and are not carried away by all the pomp and razzmatazz.
I know of one in a village who still maintains the title of ‘Brother’ though having been in the field for over 30years and perhaps making more impact than 90% of his peers in Africa..He is barely visible and rarely ever acknowledged by his peers.
I also know of a clergy man of an orthodox church who in April of this year halted his sermon to openly rebuke his ushers who had displaced a row of people from the front row to accommodate the governor and other ‘dignitaries’ of the state who had come in late. He openly rebuked the ushers and the ‘dignitaries’ and sent them to the last vacant row of the church – whilst returning those ‘ordinary members’ who had been dislodged earlier.
Was he praised? No! The national oversight committee of the church punished him by transferring him to an obscure location a month later to serve out the remainder of his time. Though vilified by His ‘Elders’. He had taken a stand for Christ and for Truth. Heaven stands to applaud such servants.
It was a tragic thing that happened in Akwa Ibom.Other tragedies happen daily to believers who have allowed themselves to be swept away by this new wave of christianity. Not until we christians begin to imbibe the berea’n spirit we will continue to participate in assemblies which have little to do with God and expose ourselves un-neccesailry to the wiles of men and traders of souls disguised as christian activities.
When we as preachers begin to dress more flamboyantly than Jesus dressed, honor ourselves more than Jesus did himself, ascribe titles unto ourselves more than Jesus did, gather men in the name of fund-raising not with clear Kingdom objectives, when we progressively depart from the simplicity and humility that characterizes the cornerstone of our faith then we have departed from the very faith itself and we must retrace our steps.
ultimately we mustn’t put much stock in titles, honorifics and courtesies, for such things are meaningless before the one truly worthy of all honor and praise.
Merry Christmas to one and all, May Christ whom we celebrate today be glorified in our lives more than ever before. Amen;