Misperceptions of Success and the Christian
The two aforementioned sins of selfish ambition and apathy have a clear foothold in the modern Christian walk. These not only lead to all kinds of mischief in our personal lives, but also keep us from seeing kingdom success through God’s eyes.
The first, selfish ambition, takes many forms. Spiritual shepherds who take advantage of the poor by promising health and material wealth, those who use kingdom resources for personal business schemes, and those who view other thriving ministries as the “competition” are only a few examples. Astonishingly, God can use selfish behavior in His kingdom for His glory, as we see in the example of those who wished to cause the Apostle Paul distress in his imprisonment (Philippians 1:17). Yet, the human toll wrought by demons such as poor ethics and jealousies in the name of Christ is significant.
Perhaps you have been exposed to selfish ambition in ministry and were unaware. This is because Satan sometimes uses our language and practice against us in an effort to cloud our perception. In the Old Testament, when Absalom campaigned to take his father David’s kingdom away, he camped out at the city gate and made himself the judge and provider for those who passed through. He used his position to exploit his father’s weaknesses and establish himself as a confidant. When people tried to show respect to Absalom by bowing, he would reach out, hold them and kiss them. In this way, the Bible says Absalom “stole the heart” of Israel. As if this manipulative plan wasn’t bad enough, he hatched the final stage of his strategy by telling his father he needed to go to Hebron to make a vow to the Lord. Absalom was one of the original “god-talkers”, spiritualizing his actions to convince others his wisdom was from God.
I have heard people use the term “kingdom view” to cast guilt in the direction of those who don’t wish to participate in their plans or cooperate with their wishes. A true kingdom view, as we will discover later, is certainly the place to begin as we function together for God’s glory. But when the kingdom view is nothing more than a personal vision rooted in an ambitious self-promoting plot, then it has become something much different from the kingdom Christ wants to grow through us.