In a discussion with Moses, God informs him it is time to start moving to the promised land. However, He tells Moses, “…I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way” (Exodus 33:3). Later in the chapter, Moses appeals this decision by God and He concedes to Moses (vs. 12-17). It is within this appeal that Moses makes this statement: “…If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (v. 15). What a statement! It pretty much boils down to this. “God, if You cannot go with me, then please do not send me!”
As a preacher of the Gospel, it must be my determined stance that I will do nothing I cannot ask Jesus to participate in with me. As we noted last time, we are to do nothing that is strictly forbidden by the Lord. It would be beyond foolish to ask Him to participate in something He has disallowed.
There may be some things in which preachers involve themselves that should not be done. If we stopped to consider if we could ask Jesus to participate in these things with us, we might be more likely to avoid them. What are some of these things?
I could never ask Jesus to participate with me in getting involved in petty arguments between brethren. On one occasion “…one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me” (Luke 12:13). We see that Jesus refused to take sides for He asked, “Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?” (v. 14). Jesus did not altogether avoid the issue because He did take time to address the matter of covetousness (vs. 15-21). Evidently, Jesus knew this man (as well as others) needed that lesson more than he needed an arbiter between his brother and himself. Likewise, we must learn to distinguish between the real issues and those that are of little or no consequence.
I could never ask Jesus to participate with me in giving preference to one person or one crowd. Jesus had friends. He even had close friends. Preachers need friends. However, it is a mistake to spend all of one’s time with only a few people. Congregations must not be made up of cliques!
Sometimes preachers, perhaps even with thinking and with no erroneous intent, spend their time catering to the money crowd. Others, seeking to avoid such criticism, spend their time catering to those with less money. James wrote, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons” (James 2:1). Be sure to balance your associations and treat everyone equally.
I could never ask Jesus to participate with me in engaging in “entertainment evangelism. Jesus could have “performed” for Herod who wanted to see Him do some miracle (Luke 23:8-9). Jesus refused, answering not a word, even though doing so could possibly have made a difference. If Jesus would not engage in such folly then, why would He do so now? We must never get caught up in the “If it draws a crowd let’s do it” mentality.
These are but a few examples of things preachers could not ask Jesus to participate in with them. In closing, never forget Jesus’ words, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” (John 12:26).