Spiritual authenticity is oneness with God!
Over the course of the last two months we’ve been exploring the nature of authenticity and why it is important to Christian artists. In last month’s edition, I explored authenticity from the perspective of how it specifically applies to the art form of music. In this edition, I will be discussing authenticity in relation to personal accountability and ministry.
The cross is not only a symbolic reminder of the sacrifice Jesus paid for all mankind, but a reflection of the two-fold nature we are to consider when engaging ministry as well. The vertical portion of the cross represents our relationship with Christ and is the foundation upon which any successful ministry is built. The horizontal crossbar represents our relationship with mankind. Through outstretched hands, we are to engage the people, places and things which surround us through the power derived from this vertical relationship with Christ. Using a biblical metaphor, plant your rugged cross in a pile of sand and it will fall. Only by anchoring ourselves upon “the rock” will we be able to create anything which endures. An effective ministry will never prevail if the foundation is weak.
If you choose to perform Christian music in any form, you have chosen to enter into ministry. This is not a decision which should be taken lightly. In fact, it is essential for you to ensure God has, indeed, led you to this calling. James 3:1 warns, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” The implication is that one should not casually enter into ministry without first considering the importance of radical obedience to Christ. Effective ministry requires spiritual depth and maturity. If you’re not willing to travel through the “All-Consuming Fire” in order to purify your spiritual character, you’re better off seeking an alternate career path; for you will be held to a higher standard. Matthew 7:18 reveals that “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”
So how does one become a “good tree?” How does one become a spiritually authentic catalyst for healing in a corrupt world? The key is to become like-minded with Christ. In John 14, Jesus clearly states, “If you love me, you will keep My commandments.” Furthermore, in Romans 12:1, Paul encourages believers to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” As ministers, we must first BECOME worship before we can LEAD worship. We must become personally accountable for our actions by allowing God to transform us in order to be used in the transformative work of ministry. Spiritual authenticity is not something easily gained, yet is the foundational element in earning the right to minister. Corporately, as a community of ministers, we must be men and women of prayer; we must have the discipline to deny ourselves and our fleshly desires in order to bear good fruit; and we must embody the spirit of the living God before others will follow.
Our message will either resonate or fall short based on the source of our power. Musically speaking, worship is, in essence, the act of “channeling” the Holy Spirit through music and can only occur if we first remove ourselves from the equation. We cannot be full of God if we are full of ourselves. We must perform the act of kenosis, which is an “emptying” of ourselves, in order to make room for the Spirit. Those we’re ministering to will never sense God’s presence if it’s not alive in and through us first. Only when we have emptied ourselves and become truly open and honest with God can we then become “in tune” with God and a conduit to the masses.
Join me for the final part of this four-part series as I discuss motivation as it relates to ministry versus industry.