Pleasing Men

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Mt. 6:2 π Mt. 6:5 π Mt. 7:21-23 π Mt. 15:6 π Mt. 23:3 π Mt. 23:6 π Mt. 24:5 π Mt. 24:12 π Jn. 10:10 π Jn. 17:21 π 1 Cor. 14:26 π 2 Cor. 11:3-4 π Gal. 1:10 π Gal. 5:19-21 π Eph. 4:11-13 π Eph. 5:21 π 1 Tim. 4:1 π 1 Pet. 4:10 π Jude 3 π Rev. 2:23
Greek Words Mentioned in This Article
Divisions, Dissensionsdichostasia – [1370]

Paul wrote, “For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” ( Gal. 1:10 ) We need to recognize carefully the mutually exclusive nature of serving Christ and seeking to please men. If we seek to please men in any way, to that extent we cease to be a servant of Christ – no matter what titles we have attached to our name (“pastor,” “apostle,” “elder,” “prophet,” “deacon,” whatever). If our “ministry” is designed to cater to any man’s soulish or carnal desire in any way or to any degree, to that extent our “ministry” is only a tradition of men that exempts the function of the word of God ( Mt. 15:6 ) or a teaching of the demonic that deceives those who are falling away from the faith. ( 1 Tim. 4:1; top )

The New Testament faithfully exposes the heart attitudes of the Pharisees and as we read of their actions as explained by men writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (who searches the hearts and minds of men - Rev. 2:23 , etc.), we have little difficulty recognizing them as the “bad guys” and “villains” who oppose Christ and His followers. But if we read the accounts more carefully, we find that these men were well respected men who held positions of leadership and authority in the community ( Mt. 23:3 ), they sat in places of honor and respect at the best feasts given by the most respectable of people ( Mt. 23:6 ) and they paraded their “superior righteousness” on busy street corners and in the front of the most popular synagogues. ( Mt. 6:2 , 5; top ) These were not flagrantly, openly evil-acting men who belonged in prisons – but they are the “villains” of the New Testament nonetheless!

Today’s religious leaders are the professional, eloquent speakers who love to be seen in public but their “official” decisions and private actions are too often quite different from the words they speak from their pulpit. They love to be received at political rallies and other public events, taking any place of prominence offered to them by “respectable” men in positions of real power. Almost no one sees the “pastor” (and the other positions that mimic or try to steal his preeminence) as the “bad guy” or “villain” who opposes Christ and His followers – any more than the average person of Jesus’ day could recognize the Pharisees as the “bad guys” and “villains” who opposed Christ and His followers! But it is true nonetheless.

The present-day institutionalizing of the “church” has produced many similarities to the traditionalizing of Judaism in Jesus’ time. The question arises as to how well Paul - the apostle of Christ Jesus and writer of a significant part of the New Testament, who proclaimed the mutually exclusive nature of serving Christ and pleasing men – would fare in today’s “church” context of drawing in crowds large enough to financially sustain the “church” building(s), facilities and utilities as well as the extravagant salaries of the “pastor” and staff. Would Paul get caught up in today’s seeking of promotions, salaries and retirement portfolios (all of which is done in the name of Christ) or would he denounce all of this as apostasy and be ostracized, criticized and excluded (“disfellowshiped”) from the local “church”?

The real question is: Just who do these guys serve who seek crowds, promotions, salaries and retirement packages? If Christ is not their Master – and Paul has already told us that one who seeks to please men (the only way to attain to popularity, salaries, positions and promotions) cannot be a servant of Christ – then who is their master? Bob Dylan even sang it very well: “You’re gonna have to serve somebody. It may be the devil or it may be the Lord – but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”

Jesus said that on the day of judgment many would tout their religious credentials and accomplishments done in the name of Christ. Yet He Himself will say to them, “Depart from Me you workers of lawlessness. I never knew you!” ( Mt. 7:21-23; top )

Jesus also warned that in the last days of the present age, Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the anointed one,’ and will deceive many.” ( Mt. 24:5 - emphasis added; top) No one claims more – both verbally and subliminally by taking the pulpit and projecting an aura of knowledgeability - to have the anointing of God than does today’s “pastors” and preachers (under whatever other title they assume) as they take to the pulpit to wield power and influence over their faithful followers and sycophants. We should also note that only the modern “church”/“pastor” symbiotic relationship matches up to Jesus’ prophetic use of “many.” The aberrant cults that abound, as numerous and well-populated as they are, are still a small even tiny minority in comparison to today’s mainstream “church.” Only today’s “church” - mainstream “Christianity” - matches Jesus’ word choice of “many.”

It is the transforming of the original way of following Christ into an institution that systematically diverts people from the faith that was given once for all. ( Jude 3 ) Because the way has become a system dominated by a professional “spiritual” elite (virtually identical to the Pharisees of Jesus’ day) almost all the people are prevented from exercising their spiritual gifts from God. ( 1 Cor. 14:26 , 1 Pet. 4:10 , etc.) The institution then fractures into splinters of like-minded people (people in whose eyes this variation of institutionalized “churchianity” is deemed “right”) called denominations (called dichostasia [ 1370 ] in the original Greek, it is a work of the flesh that prevents one from inheriting the kingdom of God - Gal. 5:19-21 ) and very few receive the personal attention of those whom God has appointed to bring the saints to the fullness of Christ-likeness. ( Eph. 4:11-13 ) Personal relationships for the majority of “Christians” are substituted for rubbing shoulders in a pew during the “worship time” and the “sermon” and, as a result, the love of most is nonexistent (cold - Mt. 24:12; top )

To overcome the systematization that has transformed the way of following Christ into an institutionalized counterfeit of the genuine way, we must first submit completely to the Lord and receive Him as King and Lord. That is, we must recognize Him as our personal Ruler – the only One who has the right and responsibility to personally and completely direct our each and every act, thought, attitude and opinion as He deems appropriate. This does not turn us into mindless automatons – as submitting to a philosophy, man, theology or institution does – because Jesus is the Tree of Life which brings us into abundant life. ( Jn. 10:10 , etc.) Personally following Christ as our King is the only way in which all of our faculties are brought to life. Any system or institution that requires us to render any faculty passive – something which the usual pattern of sermonizing at “church” routinely does – is a tool of the demonic (who require an inactive part of ourselves to gain and wield their influence and control over us).

We must not be satisfied with our own individual submission to Christ however. We must also look for those others who are similarly submitting to Christ and submit our lives, actions and services to them. ( Eph. 5:21 ) There will be no contradiction in submitting to Christ and to these others – any contradictions which occur indicate that one side or the other (or both!) is failing to truly submit to Christ – as Christ and God are not schizophrenic or divided against themselves. They are One and when we (plural) are One with Them, the world will know that Jesus truly came from God. ( Jn. 17:21; top )

That the “church” is not one with each other only demonstrates that it operates according to a different spirit than the Spirit of God and that its real purpose is to divert people from the simplicity of life and godliness that is found in Christ. ( 2 Cor. 11:3-4; top ) Those who deny this are not hearing what the Spirit is saying to the body of Christ.

Let he who has ears hear.

I’d love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!

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