C.S. Lewis once said, "If we consider the unblushing promises of reward found in the gospel, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but actually TOO WEAK. We are half-hearted creatures fooling about with drink, sex, and ambition, when INFINITE JOY is offered to us. We are like an ignorant child who wants to go on playing with mud pies in a slum for we do not know what is meant by the offer of a HOLIDAY AT SEA. We are far too easily pleased."
Are you playing with mud pies in a slum or are you enjoying the holiday at sea? Are you settling for mediocre pleasure when Jesus wants you to have MORE?
The heart of this quote is that what we TREASURE most matters. "Treasure" means what we value most; the SOURCE of our joy and satisfaction.
There are things that if we treasure them above all things, we will be unsatisfied, as if we were playing with mud pies in a slum. But there are things, mainly ONE thing, that if we treasure Him above all things, that we will be deeply and richly satisfied, as if we were enjoying a holiday at sea.
Of course, sinful things fall in the category of mud pies in the slum- partying, pornography, drug addiction, sexual immorality. But, even as Christians, there are things that we are treasuring above all things that DO NOT SATISFY.
Wearing a Christian t-shirt and speaking the Christian lingo doesn't take away the fact that we are STILL playing with mud pies in a slum- it just may be a different color mud in a different part of the ghetto.
The typical thing that people in ministry let take the place of Jesus as their greatest treasure is MINISTRY.
Loving ministry is not bad. Wanting to reach more people is not bad (Jesus actually commands this). Wanting a job in ministry is not bad. Wanting a promotion is not bad. All of these things are good things, they are just CRUMMY GODS. These are the mud pies that we struggle as church leaders- and they do not satisfy.
The issue with letting ministry take the place of God as our source of joy and satisfaction is that it will never be enough. We will go through the motions of the Christian life, still unsatisfied. Constantly desiring something more- a new church, a higher position of influence, more twitter followers, more opportunities.. and all to no avail.
This is where cyclical sin comes into play. And if we're real disciplined, this is where moral failure happens 5, 10, or 15 years down the road. Our desire for ultimate pleasure will be satisfied with something- if it's not satisfied with Jesus, it'll eventually be satisfied by sin.
Jesus says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself."
He does not say, "Love your job, read your bible, and go through the motions of the Christian life."
Jesus is the only thing that will satisfy the deepest longings of your soul. "He makes known to me the path of life. In His presence there is FULLNESS of JOY and at His right hand are PLEASURES FOREVERMORE." Psalm 16:11
When we make Jesus our treasure, we will be richly satisfied, which will overflow into authentically loving others (real ministry happens here). He is what our hearts long for. "My soul thirsts for YOU; my flesh faints for YOU as in a dry and weary land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1
The more that we make ministry our greatest treasure, and the more we duplicate that in the people we lead, the more our churches will become COLD, SHALLOW, and FAKE, and they will plateau or decline.
Ministry is meant to be an overflow of JOY in GOD; it's not meant to take His place as our treasure.
The point of the Gospel isn't to give us heaven or to give us a calling. The point of the Gospel is to give us God. Jesus died, not to give you a job, but to give you God (the only thing that truly satisfies the deepest longings of our souls).
If you're like me, and you find yourself elevating ministry above Jesus as your greatest treasure, He gives more grace. He is wooing us into greater joy and richer pleasure. Let's turn from half-hearted pleasures and mud pies in a slum, put Jesus back on the throne to experience the holiday at sea, and overflow that satisfaction into REAL MINISTRY.
To do this, we must make closeness with God what we value most. We must fill our lives with everything that stirs our affections for God and STARVE our lives of anything that robs us of those affections. Then this will overflow into loving people and working our tails off to see people changed by Jesus.
This is how we change the world!