Sometimes, to be a leader, you need to be defined not only by what you are but also by what you are not. This article is meant to describe what I am not. In this article, I want you to know that I am not a continuationist. I’m not writing this to persuade you to my camp, but just to explain why I am not a continuationist.
The day is coming closer. The day you dread every year. The day you wish would never come. If you could just snap your fingers and skip this day completely, you would. The day that will find you constantly thinking about the loved one you lost. Grief is already hard to bear, but facing the anniversary of the death of a loved one can sometimes feel like you are reliving the whole thing again.
Six years ago this Saturday (July 27), my world came crashing down. My brother and best friend, Chad Phelps, was tragically killed in a bus accident that also claimed his wife, Courtney, their unborn baby girl, and one of the youth sponsors also on that bus. Each time this day rolls around on the calendar, I’m reminded of the shock of that day six years ago.
In case you missed it, HBO just broadcasted the eighth and final season of their show, “Game of Thrones,” which is based off George R.R. Martin’s books. This show (and the books) have now become a sort of cultural phenomenon. The show was the most expensive TV show produced in 2018 and promises to have even more money poured into it in 2019. And why not put that kind of money into it if you’re HBO? Clearly, you’re giving people what they want. An astounding 3.39 million people watched the first episode of season 8. That’s up 20% from the 2.83 million who watched the season 7 premiere, and an increase of 12% over the 3.03 million who tuned in for the season 7 finale.
But it says something about the state of our Christian culture that this show continues to rise in popularity.
One of the chairs will be empty around the table for many this Christmas season. A wife will celebrate the holidays without her husband for the first time. A son will read Luke 2 without mom sitting there alongside him. There will be those not-so-distant memories of a friend’s voice we still cherish, whose quietness now speaks louder than his conversations used to. Those who were near to our hearts will be conspicuously absent. And when the cold, empty seat takes the place of that person we love, we feel the weight of their absence profoundly.
Christians have idols that we love to hate, at least superficially, like materialism or pride. For some reason these are the idols that are the ones that typically get the “amens” and “that’ll preach” comments when the pastor serves up a message about them. But for some reason, there are certain idols that we just love to love. Were the pastor to preach on an inordinate love of conservative politics, or the American dream, or the nuclear family I’d venture a guess that we wouldn’t hear as many “amens” during that sermon. Yet, even the good and well-intentioned things that we do as Christ-followers can become idols if we allow them become so prominent that Christ loses His preeminence in our lives.
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