Don’t use the measuring tape of the world.
JUNE 28, 2023
Don’t use the measuring tape of the world. I’ll explain, on this edition of Key Life.
If you’re sick of guilt and manipulation and if you’re looking for an honest and thoughtful presentation of Biblical truth, you’ve come to the right place. This is Key Life with the founder of Key Life Network, Steve Brown. Keep listening for teaching, that will make you free.
Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible, open it to the, if you’re in a place where you can, open it to the 19th chapter of Acts, as we study the Book of Acts. And in this particular chapter we’re looking at a text that has to do with some religious hustlers, they worshiped at the Temple of Diana. And when Jesus got preached, it hurt their business and it almost caused a riot. I trust that you’ll read that before you go to bed tonight cause it’s an interesting thing and it reflects the dangers that we have when we as Christians forget about Jesus and become more and more interested in religion. The statement has been made so many times that it’s old, that the Christian faith is not a religion, it’s a relationship. And I get that, but religion is good too. I mean, we’ve had 2000 years of the Christian religion and some of it is incredibly bad and some of it is incredibly good. And all of it in the church belongs to Jesus, the Bride of Christ, and someday every bruise, every wart, every failure, every sin is going to be dissipated and we’re going to be presented perfectly before the throne of Jesus. But meanwhile, it’s a good thing to be careful about toxic religion. And the Book of Acts, especially the 19th chapter, gives us a good example of toxic religion. We’ve seen so far that toxic religion, in this case of Artemis or Diana, toxic religion is filled with self-interest, Acts 19:25 through 27. You’ve got to be careful when you have to protect, stuff to defend. I’ll tell you, I don’t want the church to die. Especially when I was a pastor, cause I needed the job. I don’t want Key Life to get into serious financial trouble because I need the job. I don’t want to see Key Life go down in flames because I’ve got to pay the mortgage. Okay? Now, as long as I’m aware of how sinful what I just said is, then I’m okay. As long as I understand that I don’t have to defend this, I’m okay. I remember when I was on the board of Christianity Today and I was there for some 20 years, and on the executive committee of it and the two guys who had come from Youth for Christ in order to take over Christianity today came when we were really down financially. And they turned it around. And Christianity today became the most successful magazine in the history of the church. And I remember those days and I said to these two guys, or to one of them, Robbie, I said, do you stay awake at night worrying about what’s going to happen? He said, no, I don’t. And I said, why don’t you? He said, cause it’s not mine, it’s not mine. He understood, the church is not mine. Key life is not mine. Your religion is not yours. And when you make it so much yours that you have to defend it and make your living by it, you’ve got to be very, very careful. I sound a little bit like Jonathan Edwards, don’t I? I don’t mean to do that in a legalistic way. I’m just pointing out places where you have to be careful. The bigger the church is, the more you have to defend it. And the more you have to defend it, the more dangerous it is. And so, you have to be careful of self-interest. And then we saw, and I mentioned that toxic religion judges itself by the measurement of the world. The world always knows who is successful and who is not successful. And the world is almost always wrong, Acts 19:27.
“And there is a danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may count for nothing, that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the whole world worships.”
What’s going on here? They’re saying if you get a crowd, it’s got to be true. They’re saying if you have a big church, it must be faithful. They’re saying if a lot of money is coming in, it must be because God is blessing. Not necessarily. Those are standards that God doesn’t use. Let me tell you something. When we get home, we’re going to have a lot of questions to ask Jesus. I’m going to ask him about the Graf-Wellhausen Documentary Hypothesis. About the difference between reformed theology and Calvinism and Dispensationalism and Wesleyan theology. And I ask him who is right? No, I probably won’t. Cause when we get to heaven it isn’t going to matter. But I really will be curious about one thing. Cause I kind of look for heroes and I would say to Jesus, who is the most faithful? Who is the person who loved you deeply and profoundly, and that you used in amazing ways? And do you know what I think he’s going to say? I think he’s going to say, I’m not going to tell you. And I’m going to say, what do you mean you’re not going to tell us? We, that’s something we ought to know. We’re in heaven now we ought to know everything. And he’ll say, I’m not going to tell you cause you wouldn’t even know the name. The most effective people in the church may be the janitor. The most effective person in the church may be the Sunday school teacher who teaches kindergarteners. The most effective person in the church may not be the pastor, it may be the lady who sits on the third row and loves people who are unlovely. The point is the standards of God are sometimes quite different than the standards that we ought to have as Christians. If I knew who wrote what I’m going to read to you, I’d give credit, but I don’t know who wrote it, but it’s a poem that’s pretty strong. It’s called The Parson’s Prayer.
I do not ask that crowds may throng the temple that standing room be priced. I only ask that as I voice the message that they may see Christ. I don’t ask for churchly pomp, or pageant, or music such that wealth can only buy. I only ask that as voice the message that he may be nigh. I don’t ask that men may sound my praises or headlines spread my name abroad. I only ask that as I voice the message hearts may find God. I don’t ask for Earthly place or laurel, or this world’s distinctions any part. I only ask that when I voice the message my Savior’s heart.
Oh man, that is beautiful. And that would apply to all of us who are Christians. Now, don’t go weird on me. This is not a legalistic bunch of rules, and you should stay awake feeling guilty if you don’t live up to everything. It’s just the caution. For those of us who are Christians living in what the sociologists call a post-Christian culture. We have a tendency to get depressed, to get down, to begin to change things so we can attract the crowd and we’ve got to be careful of that sort of thing because we have a king that nobody elected and nobody will ever depose. We have truth that we can’t spin. We have a message that the world needs to hear. And as somebody has said recently, when you speak true things, truth will win. And we need to be reminded. And as you study the 19th chapter of Acts, you see the importance of that kind of thing. I still want to be successful. If I went back into the pastorate, I’d want a big church. I’d like for people to read my books and that they would become bestsellers. I would like to be praised by everybody, and I like it sometimes when that kind of thing happens. But there’s also in the background, the whisper of the Holy Spirit. Be careful. Make sure that you don’t let the world decide what is success and what isn’t. Only Jesus can do that. You think about that. Amen.
What a great reminder that we shouldn’t allow the world to set our measure for success. Thank you Steve. We do still have one more day this week of exploring Acts, and it just so happens that that day is tomorrow. Hope we’ll see you again here for that. Well here we are, nearly the end of June. You doing any traveling this summer? If so, I’d like to direct you to our station finder tool at Keylife.org/stations that will let you know where you can hear this program and our talk radio show, Steve Brown Etc. anywhere in the country. We’re also on Sirius XM, by the way. That’s pretty cool, but that’s just one of many features I think you’ll enjoy at keylife.org we also have the Key Life Audio Bible Project, Simply Sermons, videos. Listen, you’re just going to have to check it out for yourself. And guess what? It’s all still free. Thanks to the generous support of listeners, just like you. If you’d like to donate, just call 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. If you’d like to send your donation by mail, just go to keylife.org/contact to find our addresses for the U.S. and Canada. Or e-mail [email protected] you can charge gift on your credit card, you can include a gift in your envelope. And of course, now you can give safely and securely by text. How do you do that? Glad you asked. Just pick up your phone, you know it’s right there, and text Key Life to 28950 and then follow the instructions that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. Both of those organizations assure financial accountability. And as always, Key Life is a listener supported production of Key Life Network.