Within the past several months I went to a Church service where the Pastor of the assembly, on a Sunday morning, literally stood before the flock and mocked, pantomimed, made fun of and judged other quote Christians unquote. How?
The joke was, “You know, those quote Christians unquote who pray silently, in their head and you can’t hear anything?” At this point the Pastor made a mimicking sarcastic face, lifted upwards for a few seconds and then shouted That doesn’t work!
He went on, “And those hireling quote preachers unquote that dress in their jeans and sit on bars tools just talking pretty sermons.” Here again he pantomimed sitting on a stool and shouted That doesn’t work!
I decided not to visit that place again. That was the display of that anti-Christ already at work in the world today. (I John 4:3) Ask yourself if you would have been mortified, embarrassed and ashamed if you had brought a guest to that service, promising to them that in that place, the house of God, they would see and feel the Love of Christ.
Then let us not criticize one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block or a source of temptation in another believer’s way. – Romans 14:13 AMP
The crux of this situation was this. At this Church they went on to teach that if you don’t shout and make a lot of noise, if other people can’t hear you praying, demonstrably, and rattling your tongue as if you were speaking in tongues, then its ineffectual, it isn’t fervent, it isn’t prayer. More so, if your preaching isn’t wild, loud, shouting, suit and tie, you are a hireling just satisfying itching ears.
By way of explanation, the quote and unquote emphasis is their [that particular Church] way to represent people who call themselves Christians, but who aren’t really, because they aren’t of the flavor of that Church.
Let’s contrast this attitude with the Words of Jesus, who addressed them both;
Is prayer only useful if you make sure people hear you?
Also, when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to pray [publicly] standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets so that they may be seen by men. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, they [already] have their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your most private room, close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. – Matthew 6:5-7 AMP
The key questions is, ‘who are you praying to?‘
If you are praying to your pastor, or to your fellow congregants, then sure it makes sense that you walk around shouting, whooping, babbling (vain repetition) and carrying on as if it makes you more spiritual. If the measuring stick of your spirituality is how many people think you are spiritual, then yes, you must make sure people hear you. As the hypocrites Jesus dressed down, their reward was the praise of other men and they had all they could get.
But if you are praying to God, Jesus recommended a secret place, somewhere that was just between you and the Lord. This ‘secret place’ can be in your pew, it can be in your car, at the desk where you write blog posts, or in your bed. Jesus taught us to ‘pray to your Father who is in secret’. They (this Pastor and his flock, for half of them laughed as his mockery) forget too quickly that God knows the heart.
Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that he can provide abundantly over all we ask or think. I think it is important to ask of God with your mouth, and there is value in speaking your prayers that you and others may be edified, but we shouldn’t be so fast to judge in Christ’ stead what is effectual.
Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. – Romans 14:4 KJV
Is a preacher on a barstool a hireling?
This is almost too trivial to address. The right answer is it doesn’t matter if you are in a suit and tie or if you are in jeans and a button up. What matters is whether or not you are preaching the truth of God’s Word, you have the right spirit, and whether or not your method has the desired affect.
But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: – Romans 14:15-16 KJV
Now, consider the examples we have to go by, the founding Fathers, the Apostles. When Jesus sent them (disciples) out (See my post on how the Gospel was for the Jews First for an in depth explanation of this verse. Mat 10:5) to preach the Gospel, He made it very clear their mission was the Gospel. It wasn’t money, it wasn’t a wealthy appearance, high status, it wasn’t for a show. This was the real deal.
These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. – Matthew 10:5-10 KJV
What is a hireling?
A hireling, according to Scripture is someone who performs a service for wages. The Greek word is mis-tho-tos’ and is in the Strong’s Greek & Hebrew Definitions, reference #G3411. You could suppose that any minister who receives compensation then as a hireling, but the Word defines this more eloquently…
“because he is a hired worker, and the sheep don’t matter to him.” – John 10:13 ISV
That’s a hireling. A wage earner who is in it for the money. He pretends to care for the flock but uses his position, authority and status to gain more for himself. We can conclude then, that if you preach on a bar stool, but your heart and spirit is for the salvation of those in attendance, and you truly wish to see the salvation those souls, you are a preacher of the gospel, not a hireling.
Nowhere does the Bible dictate to us how to dress when we preach, what type of suits to wear, how to color code our attire, buff our shoes, pick the right tie, keep the hair perfect, etc. I have known preachers who wouldn’t let you on their platform without the right clothes, ensuring that your shoes were buffed, hair was just right, etc. This is sadly, and again, the anti Christ already at work in the world today. I John 4:3
Let me end this post with a revelation the Scripture gives us. Not a new revelation, but its there nonetheless. We are not the Judge. Christ is, and Him alone. The book of Romans, Chapter 14 is entirely devoted to this subject. This same church I mentioned calls people out publicly in service if they appear to be ‘weakening’ rather than embracing and welcoming them openly and giving charitable support. (That doesn’t mean money!)
But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. – Romans 14:10
Christians, stop judging each other! I urge you to with an open heart read Romans 14, read it in several translations. I prefer the King James Bible but I always intersperse and compare translations, often times the wording can open your eyes to the meaning (spirit) of the Scripture when compared.
But you, why do you criticize your brother? Or you again, why do you look down on your [believing] brother or regard him with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God [who alone is judge]. – Romans 14:10 AMP
I hope this helps us all to think twice before we publicly condemn others for their practices. We should first look to understand, and to teach in a loving manner that causes people to be attracted to the Light of the Gospel rather than turned off or away.