There have been 3 times in my life where I took major stands against the crowd for the sake of Jesus and His gospel. Each time I did, it came with a cost. The first time was in the late 80′s when the seeker sensitive movement started becoming the latest fad within the denomination I was a part of. The second time was after I wrestled with the issue of whether or not the tragedy of divorce disqualifies a person for ministry. That was in the early 2000′s. The last one has been recently. It has been where I would not compromise the message of the gospel of grace. I come against in no uncertain terms, legalism and the teachings of legalism.
Sometimes when we take a stand for what is right it costs us. It may cost us opportunity. It may cost us emotionally. It may even cost us our life.
When I made the stand against going to a seeker sensitive type of worship service, it cost me opportunity. Those that were in places of leadership above me were advocating this method. When I stood against it, they took it that I was rebellious and not willing to follow them. Because of that, I was passed over for opportunities in ministries.
The cost for taking a stand does not just happen from outside the church. Many times it happens from within the church. More than once I have had good people who did not understand spiritual issues leave the church and come against me in word and deed because I took the stand to allow the Spirit of God to move in our services. This is not because they are evil people. It was because they were carnally minded. The word carnal here is used in the context of earthly or naturally minded. They were looking only at what they could see from an earthly or physical perspective. They were not looking at things from a spiritual perspective.
It was because of this that they decided to take it upon themselves to come against what I was doing and what I stood for. It had a cost.
The Emotional Cost
In May of 2000, I went through a very painful and ugly divorce. I have said on many occasions that there were many parts of it that were my fault. I have taken responsibility for those things and the pain I caused. God has been good. He restored my children to me, and gave me a hope and a future. (Jer. 29:11)
However one thing I didn’t know after the divorce was whether or not God would restore a divorcee’ to ministry. I had been taught that divorce disqualifies a person. I seriously wrestled with the issue for more than a year. During this time I was given 3 prophetic words by three individuals in 3 different churches concerning a return to ministry. Yet even with that, it was not until God revealed to me this scripture that I came to a place that I knew I would have to take a stand.
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
The same God who gifted and called me back when I was a teenager was the same God who had Paul write this passage. The same God who was trying to get my attention with those prophetic words was the same God who knew when He called me that I would go through divorce. In fact He knew every sin I would commit previous to calling me.
This had a very big emotional cost to me. You see, I like people to like me. I like people to think well of me and I knew that there would be at least 1/2 of all Christians that would come against me in this because they, like me, had been taught that you are not qualified for ministry if you are divorced. I had to die to self concerning whether or not people liked me and agreed with me. I had to be willing to pay the price to once again enter back into ministry. Even to this day, almost 13 years later I still have people coming against me on this issue, even though people have been saved, healed, grown up in the Lord, and encouraged by what God has done through this ministry, the ministry at my church, and all the other avenues I am involved in to reach our world. Taking a stand for God deciding who He calls and doesn’t has a cost.
Taking A Stand Against Legalism
For 20 years I was caught in performance based religion. It did not help me grow closer to the Lord nor did it help me become more like Jesus. All it did was allow me to compare my so called holiness to other Christians. If I was doing better, then I felt better about myself, but I never found contentment or satisfaction.
It was not until I truly understood the grace of God and the unfailing love He has for us that growth started to happen again. I have taken very clear stands against legalism and performance based religion. This has cost me again. Once again I am speaking things that the majority of Christendom does not believe or want to hear.
Christian leaders are controlling their people through fear and whether or not they are measuring up. Christian people are comparing themselves to one another. Neither of these things are from God. I have taken a stand and of course, I get the backlash of people calling me names, and even going as far as to stalk me on the internet in order to discredit the ministry of the Lord through me. It is ok. I have learned that when you are doing the work of the Lord, you encounter troubled people trying to prove their own holiness and worth by discrediting others. It is sad but it is true.
What Is It God Is Calling You To Do?
What is God calling you to do? What did He call you to do and you didn’t go for it? The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. That means that if He called you, He is still calling you. He doesn’t change His mind.
I would like to encourage you this morning. Yes the cost may be large. Yes you may have to pay a price. However, the rewards are wonderful and even if some things do not work out because of the costs involved, God always opens a new door and a new avenue to fulfill His purposes.
I have paid the costs, and will continue to pay the costs to preach the gospel of grace. No man will stop me. It is what I have been called to do. What about you? Will you join me?
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ