Part 6: Gaining success, Losing my soul.
If our actions reveal:
- We believe professional success is more important than spiritual success.
- We spend more time in Church meetings than Gospel conversations.
- We prioritize planning events over gathering for prayer.
Then the reality is:
We are gaining the world, but losing our souls.
How have we missed this? Why have we sacrificed our souls for some earthly version of success? What is it about the temptation of being popular in the American psyche that it outweighs our true need of being fully known and fully loved? (Check out the song “Known” by Tauren Wells).
Where your treasure is…
Who wouldn’t want the eternal things over the temporary things?
And yet, we find ourselves (“like a dog returning to its vomit” – Proverbs 26:11) in the same cycles of seeking after the things Jesus’s own disciples sought more than they sought Him (Mark 10:37).
We find ourselves wanting the external miracles more than we desire to see a deep transformation within ourselves and others (John 6:26-40).
We find ourselves chasing after earthy things that will only produce temporary results instead of spiritual things that can produce eternal results (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Step 1: Admit I have a problem.
In this moment it would be easy to point fingers at someone else’s life or someone else’s ministry. But it starts with me. It starts with you. It starts with us together learning to focus on our souls and the souls of others more than human measurements of success.
The church world is not any less susceptible to the worship of success over the concern for people’s souls. And we as the American church, I believe, have traded our soul to gain success.
Repent, and believe the Gospel.
So, what do we do about it? How do we gain our souls and lose success?
First, we die to our own “churchy version” of the American dream:
God being the one who prospers me in primarily my earthly life (as opposed to my eternal life). That what garners attention is big buildings and budgets. That what counts as successful are performance stages with audiences. Not to mention the book deals, the platinum worship albums, and the seeking of social media influencer status.
Second, we recover the dream of God for His people:
“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces;
now he will heal us.
He has injured us;
now he will bandage our wounds.
In just a short time he will restore us,
so that we may live in his presence.
Oh, that we might know the Lord!
Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
or the coming of rains in early spring.”
“O Israel and Judah,
what should I do with you?” asks the Lord.
“For your love vanishes like the morning mist
and disappears like dew in the sunlight.
I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces—
to slaughter you with my words,
with judgments as inescapable as light.
I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.”
We put all this effort into doing great things for God in the name of God that ultimately will burn up with the rest of this world. Remember, Jesus shifted the focus from the physical Temple to people as God’s Temple – meaning all physical things become secondary to people’s souls. And what attracts people to Jesus is not the building or experience, but the actual people living out the Gospel (Acts 2:42-47).
This Lent, let’s lay down our visions of earthly grandeur and reclaim God’s vision of eternal glory. May we be willing to “lose” success in the eyes of man in order to gain our souls – and the souls of others – in the eyes of God. Hear this critique from the words of two Christian musicians:
“Check it out,
The paparazzi flashes, and that they think that it’s you,
But they don’t know that who you are is not what you do,
True, we get it twisted when we peek at the charts,
Yo before we part from the start,
Where’s your heart?
You a pimp, hustler?
Tell me what’s your title,
America has no more stars, now we call them idols,
You sit idle while we teach prosperity,
The first thing to prosper should be inside of me.
Not because of .22s on the range,
But Christ came in range, we said yes now we changed,
Not the same, even though I made a fall,
Since I got that call, no more Saul, now I’m Paul.
I don’t wanna gain the whole world, and lose my soul”
“Lose My Soul” by tobyMac (feat. Kirk Franklin, Mandisa)