We have been talking about how easy it is for us to shift our love from God Himself to the things of God - to church, to fellowship, to service, to being able to call ourselves "Christians" for whatever social standing that gives us, and on and on the list goes. Yesterday, I mentioned how this trap is particularly easy to fall into for those who serve in the church, whether professional pastors or lay servants. We just get to the point where all of our engagement with God is focused on what we pour out for Him, to the point that it pours right through us instead of filling us up.
And it is at this point that our ministry becomes a ministry of silly walks.
Really, I just couldn't help myself once I titled yesterday's post; I had to write a post on the ministry of silly walks. If you're not familiar with the reference, it's an old Monty Python bit to which I was introduced during my childhood (outside of the church), and well, some of it still makes me giggle.
But this is happening in our churches. And here's how it's happening: it starts when someone who is a servant in the church starts falling in love more with the things of God and the service of God than with God Himself. Now, the truth is that no one becomes a servant in the church by accident; you come to head a ministry or participate in a program or speak from the pulpit because at some point (hopefully), you have demonstrated your spiritual maturity. Others look to you for guidance on all things God. They believe you are an example that they should be following.
In other words, you have a position of service in the church precisely because of your walk with God.
But when your love starts falling away from God and more toward the things that you're doing "for" Him, your walk starts falling away, too. All of a sudden, you're walking with others through their trouble, but it's not the road to Emmaus any more. You're just walking. You're walking through rehearsals, but you're not worshiping any more; you're just playing music. You're walking through the sermon, but you aren't preaching it to your own heart.
If you're paying attention, you'll notice when this starts to happen. The persons who are following your walk will tell you. It starts out in all earnest - they want to walk with you because of the way you walk with God. You're so in love with God, and they see it. But then, they want to walk your prayer walk. They just like the way that you pray. So they start maybe to pray like you, but they don't have your heart, so it's missing something. Or they like the way you play music, so they start to try to play music like you - not to worship, but just to play music. Instead of hearing, "I want to worship like you," you start to hear things like, "I want to be able to sing like you" or "I wish I could play the guitar like you."
Maybe your heart for God has always driven you to a ministry of presence or provision. And others have learned from your example along the way, but the more you do it because you enjoy presence and provision (and not particularly ministry or God), the more you hear things like, "I wish I could learn to be a good friend like you are." Not a good brother or sister; just a friend. Just someone who cares, like anyone in the world would care. Not particularly because God has given you a heart for it.
Your ministry becomes a ministry of silly walks...because it isn't walking with God any more. Because you're doing the same things and taking the same steps, but it's not coming out of that heart for God that drew you to it in the first place; it's just coming out of a heart that thinks this is who you are and this is what you do, so you're doing it.
The number of persons in our churches who are discouraged, even to the point of turning away from the faith, by those whose silly walks they are following is astounding. The number of persons in our churches who are discouraged because they aren't more like so-and-so, not because of the way so-and-so loves God but because of the things so-and-so does around the church or the community, is heartbreaking. And that's why it's so important, especially for us who would be servants in our churches, that our walks do not become silly. That we stay grounded on the road with God. That we are always, forever and foremost, walking with Him.
And that's the danger we've been talking about - what happens when we don't.
And, well, then our walk just becomes silly.