For thirty pieces of silver Judas sold out Jesus! Wow. On that same night He called His disciples together for the "Last Supper." He was breaking a piece of bread and drinking a cup of wine predicting what was about to happen to Him. The greatest day in the history of the universe was about to unfold. Christ was about to walk into His own crucifixion.
By all accounts, to every bystander on that day Christ was about to be a gigantic failure. However, to His Father in Heaven, He was about to walk into the very 24 hours, which He had been preparing for since the beginning of time. Is it possible that we in today's churches sell out Jesus for even less? Is He in Heaven breaking bread that we will not commune with Him in? Is He pouring out wine while we refuse to teach and preach on the shedding of His blood?
I had traveled about five years speaking as a revivalist in one of the largest evangelical denominations in the world. At that time I was holding on the average of two or three five-day meetings a month in churches mostly in New York State. We were permitted at large state ministers conferences to set up a booth, and talk to pastors about the possibility of coming to hold revival meetings in their churches. I was very open about my extortive preaching. Pastors knew from my reputation of preaching and prophesying, that I was never afraid to share all of God's Word and sometimes that "upset the apple cart" as they say
One day I was having lunch with a pastor who had hosted my ministry. He really broke my heart as he shared with me this story. He said, "Brother, I do try to share with others how God has powerfully used you in our church. Just the other day, for instance, I shared with another pastor friend a good word concerning your ministry. His response was, 'I know all about Brother Harkness's ministry. I have known about him for a few years now. You have to understand. My people pay me a nice salary. They put my wife and family in a nice home, help us to drive nice cars and even pay for my kids to be in Christian school. If I were to have someone like Brother Harkness come and preach his extortive messages in my church, they would ask for my resignation on Monday morning!"
Such stories, though very sad, are far too common. They reflect the lukewarmness and coldness of the hearts of some parishioners and churches. They show how controlling many churches are regarding both what their pastor either preaches from the pulpit, or allows to be preached by others there. They welcome messages on hope and encouragements, desiring the milk of God's Word, yet never go on to the meat of Christian maturity.
I realize that the calling that God has placed on my life is very unique. He has never allowed me to take the head pastorate of a church. I have been an interim pastor for about a year in a small country church. As I formally stated I was a youth pastor/leader in five different churches through the years. He has always showed me that if I took a pastorate I would be restricted in what I could teach and preach. Like the Apostle Paul I have been a type of "tentmaker" all of my life, working in what I like to call my day job. I was actually verbally offered five different pastorates in a one-year span, and one by our Assistant District Superintendent. I reluctantly had to say no to each offer. The Spirit of God taught me how right it was in Jesus eyes to be a pleaser of God and not of men.
Another time I was at a funeral, listening to the pastor's eulogy. He proceeded to explain to the people that the man who was lying there in the casket that day was a very godly person. He further told the people of that church that this was a man who regularly heard from God. He had even told the pastor prior to the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center something was about to happen. He told him that God had revealed to him some great tragedy was about to hit the United States. The pastor then proceeded to state, "I never told this church because you pay me to protect you from people like this and then he said his name. Even though I could not believe my ears, sadly he is typical of pastors in this nation who are afraid to allow true men and women of God operate in their Holy Spirit given gifts for fear of being fired.
We must ask ourselves is it the people who do not want certain truths of the Bible preached? Or is it the pastors who are motivated by concepts of the success philosophes of this world? Perhaps wanting to build up big numbers by preaching a watered down message? When was the last time you heard a message preached against the sin of being men pleasers? "For am I now seeking the favor of men or God"? Galatians 1:10a (KJV)
"The same night Jesus was betrayed (for thirty pieces of silver) he took bread..." 1st Corinthians 11:23b (KJV). By far too many churches in these last days are selling out Jesus for money. Bigger attendance means more money in the offering plates. If preaching on the Cross of Christ, and the crucified life keeps people away today's clerics intentionally stay away from it. Are we selling out Jesus for money becoming men pleasers? On the very eve, I believe speaking metaphorically, of His return for His bride, we are selling Him out for numbers sake? May God not only forgive us but also cleanse us all of this unrighteousness! Purify our hearts oh God!