What’s Your Agenda?
“Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.” (2 Corinthians 2:17 NIV)
When I was an undergrad student at Baylor, I remember a time where I became enamored with a particular theological debate that has been ongoing for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Everywhere I went I seemed to find myself in a conversation either arguing for this position or gaining affirmation for my predisposition. At first I thought it was because everyone was as interested in this topic as I was, but I later realized it was because I was the one always bringing it up. But the truth is, I had become addicted to discussing the various nuances associated with this topic. I had begun to put my theological agenda on Scripture and on the person of Christ. When I came to this realization I vowed to be only obsessed with one thing for the rest of my life, and that is the person of Christ and his Good News.
I believe we’ve all been there at one time or another. We get obsessed with defending a certain position or stance and it we begin to live for defending our viewpoint. One thing I’ve realized the further along in ministry I’ve gotten is that it is easy for people to want to use church to promote their agenda over the Gospel. Whether it is a business, a political stance, a social issue or even a theological position, all of these things are secondary to Christ. But far too often we strip God of the power found in Scripture when we scour the text for ways to prove our own agendas.
This is not something new, however. In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul addresses the stigma that probably surrounded him being a traveling “speaker.” Many “professionals” in his day would pick up certain agendas and twist truth in order to gain a large following and more money. And Paul says these people are “peddlers” no different than street venders trying to make a dime. But in our society I often see people become peddlers by taking on causes other than Christ.
I will guarantee you one thing: if you want to get people to follow you in ministry, just take up a cause. What cause you ask? Any cause will do and you will get followers. Begin teaching Health and Wealth, Calvinism, cheap grace, the Social Gospel, mysticism, spiritual gifts or the Republican Party and you’ll find people and money following you. How many people do you know that put their hope and joy into something as fleeting as the next great podcast sermon?
While people may flock to you, what will leave as fast as it came will be the power of God to pierce the hearts with the truth of the Gospel. This is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians that no one should follow him or Cephas or Apollos; rather they should follow Christ alone. He says, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:17–19 NIV)
My prayer is that the ministry that God has called me to would be as single-minded as this. My hope is that our church would not be derailed or divided by agendas. And my desire is to see the global Church return to putting hope and faith in the power of God found in the cross of Jesus Christ.