How long could you do ministry without God?

I wonder how long I could be successful in ministry without God? I’ve been in vocational ministry for 31 years, and I seldom encounter a situation I haven’t seen before. I have a stockpile of sermons to pull from, and many other places where I can grab a complete sermon with a moments notice. I do strategy, staffing and structure in my sleep. My experience, connections and the internet give me all the tools I need to do ministry, and do it at a very high level. God is good, but often not all that necessary.

How about you? How long could your church function, and function well, without God? You have your sermons planned through Easter, your song lists loaded into Planning Center and your small group resources online. You have well-trained volunteers and the best staff money can buy. Your IT and weekend tech have redundancies built in to handle any contingency. The people who attend your church know that they will have a quality experience every weekend regardless what might happen behind the scenes. Certainly God is welcome at your church, but is he really necessary?

Israel created an elaborate and efficient church that ran very well without God. The priests and Levites excelled at their roles, the sacrificial system was geared to handle the crowds at Passover efficiently, and the Jewish people knew their needs were met with consistency and care. 400 years after God stepped away the Jews no longer missed him. They had created a church without God.

And then one weekend he showed up. He ignored their service run down, he tore up their resource table and he violated their policies and procedures. Every time he came to a service havoc ensued. Finally they had to either completely change the way they did church or kill God. They chose to kill God.

I am all for policies, procedures, strategy, training, planning and technology. If fact, except for policies and procedures, these are the things I love the most. And I am amazed to see how effectively churches use these tools to reach people far from God and lead them into biblical discipleship. What scares me, shakes me to my core, however is how easily we can substitute the tools of worship for genuine worship. How often we find ourselves worshipping the creation rather than the creator. How many weekends we leave church feeling satisfied because the music was good, the sermon was well received and the attendance was up without even considering if God was pleased.

How long has it been since I have been on my face before God, desperate to hear from him, knowing that I am absolutely toast without him. When was the last time I was so hungry to experience the power and presence of God that I could not eat, I could not sleep until I felt the supernatural touch of his Holy Spirit? When was the last time I was so overwhelmed by the responsibility of preaching the Word that I could barely breathe?

It is not all that hard to build a ministry without God. What a terrifying place to be.

Notes from Over The Edge

“God is not a belief-system.
Jesus is not a religion.
Christianity is not a check-list.
Church is not an address.
The Bible is not a book of doctrines.
Community is not a meeting.
Grace has no exceptions.
Ministry is not a program.
Art is not carnal.
Women are not inferior.
Our humanity is not the enemy.
Sinner is not our identity.
Love is not a theory.
Peace is not a circumstance.
Science is not secular.
Sex is not filthy.
Life is not a warm-up for Heaven
The world is not without hope.
There is no “us” and “them.”
Tattoos are not evil.
Loving the earth is not satanic.
Seeing the divine in all things is not heretical.
Self-actualization is not self-worship.
Feelings are not dangerous and unreliable.
The mind is not infallible.”

Biblical Archeology Filmmaker Blasts Jesus Book Author Reza Aslan for Suggesting Jesus Called His Country ‘Palestine’

 

 

Simcha Jacobovici is a Canadian-Israeli adjunct religion professor and filmmaker known for his biblical archaeology History Channel series “The Naked Archaeologist.” In an op-ed in the Times of Israel, Jacobovici takes Reza Aslan, author of “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” to task for referring to the land of Jesus as “Palestine,” when a review of historical sources shows the place was known as “Judea,” a word that in Hebrew is synonymous with the word “Jew.”

Biblical Archeology Filmmaker Blasts Jesus Book Author Reza Aslan for Suggesting Jesus Called his Country Palestine

Author Reza Aslan (Image source: author’s website)

Jacobovici writes (emphasis added throughout), “in all his interviews, Aslan goes out of his way to refer to Jesus’ Judea i.e., the land of the Jews, as ‘Palestine.’  For all I care, he can call it ‘Nebraska,’ as long as he doesn’t give the impression that this is really what it was called by the inhabitants of Judea in Jesus’ time.”

If you write a book about Jesus and you call his country by the name that he called it i.e., ‘Judea’, the politically correct armies of anti-Israel activists may get upset with you. So Aslan calls ancient Judea ‘Palestine’ and hides behind the reference to the ‘Roman designation’ for the province,” Jacobovici writes.

“This is very cynical. It’s very cynical to fudge the history of the Aegean Philistines 3200 years ago, lingering references to their name, and the Roman province of the second century CE. It’s very cynical to retroactively place modern Arab Palestinians into Jesus’ Jewish Hellenistic world,” the Emmy Award-winning filmmaker writes.

“In Jesus’ day, his country was called Judea, and the overall designation for the land was ‘Israel’ – as it is today. You can argue about politics, but let’s not change history to suit our views,” he adds.

Jacobovici points out that when asked why he uses the name “Palestine” for ancient Judea, Aslan insists he is using the “Roman designation” for the area, saying the designation was “Syria Palestine.”

“This is absolutely wrong,” writes Jacobovici. “More than this, it demonstrates a certain cynicism when manipulating history for the purpose of ideology.”

Jacobovici provides a detailed review of the word “Palestine” and where it came from including noting that when Jesus was born “there hadn’t been any Philistines in the area for some 600 years.” The name “Palestine” does not appear in the Gospels and those living in Judea during Jesus’ time – including Jesus and his disciples “would never have referred to their country as ‘Palestine,’” the filmmaker notes.

Biblical Archeology Filmmaker Blasts Jesus Book Author Reza Aslan for Suggesting Jesus Called his Country Palestine

Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici (Screenshot: History Channel)

Many Blaze readers made the same point as Jacobovici when commenting on Faith Editor Billy Hallowell’s post reviewing highlights from Aslan’s contentious interview with Fox News. “It’s about a historical man who walked the earth 2,000 years ago in a land that the Romans found Palestine,” Aslan told Fox News last month.

One reader commented, “Notice how he refuses to say ‘Israel’ using the name ‘Palestine.’”

Another wrote of Aslan’s terminology: “It’s about a historical man who walked the earth 2,000 years ago in a land that the Romans found Palestine.’ This is inaccurate.”

“I wonder if his true purpose was not so much Jesus in his book but attempting to establish Palestine 2000 years ago,” wrote another Blaze reader.

Jacobovici has himself been the subject of some criticism for raising provocative theories about early Christianity, including a theory that Jesus and his family were buried in a tomb under Jerusalem.

Jacobovici likens Aslan’s word choice to another politically-charged issue, Native Americans, writing, “But let’s say the Romans had called ‘Judea’ ‘Palestine’ in Jesus’ time – which they didn’t – why would a writer focusing on Jesus as a Jewish patriot i.e., a Zealot, want to call Jesus’ country by the name that his enemies used?”

“It’s as if I wrote a book about a native American hero and kept referring to him as an ‘Indian’, because that’s what white people called him,” Jacobovici writes.

“I think there is no room for propaganda when reviewing history. No one is objective. But we can try to be truthful,” he adds.