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Comparisons…It seems that from the time we are first cognizant as little children we are bombarded with comparisons made between people, between products, between teams, and so on. When you listen to the commercials, from the cradle to the grave it seems as if we are never good enough in and of ourselves. Such and such will help you lose weight. This will prevent or reduce baldness. That will help remove hair. This product will reduce wrinkles. Use this item and no gray will show. Use such-and-such website and you will find the ideal man or the ideal woman to date and to marry. You need this car, this house, this appliance, this insurance, and so on ad nauseum.



It does not stop there. Folks complain about these commercials and all that, but they make comparisons themselves. So many people have “criteria” for other people, teams, or whatever to meet. Taller is better. No, shorter is better. Marry someone who is materially successful. Joe’s new car looks ten times better than Carl’s truck. I would never drink as much as she does. More examples could be given of all this worldly competition and measuring, but there is no need to do this. We as Christians have comparison-making right here in the body of Christ, right in the churches.



Since we still enjoy at least some freedom of speech, you will also still see or hear advertisements for churches on television, radio, and social media. Such ads alone are not a problem. After all, how are churches and other ministries to become known if no one has gotten word of their existence? The issue comes in with the way that ministries react to one another’s ads. It should not be too surprising that ministries can view each other as competition. After all, more and more it appears that Westernized Christianity is structured on the corporate business model. The bottom line matters as much in a lot of churches as it does in the business world. I am not talking about the necessary capital to keep a ministry or a church going. I am talking about profit. I am talking about stealing sheep from one church in order to fill another. Then, when some churches and ministries have gotten significantly larger than others, there go the comparisons. Pastor Smith averages ten thousand every Sunday morning at his church while Pastor Johnson barely manages 500. John Q. Baptist Church doesn’t even have air conditioning! Jane Doe Pentecostal Church has three campuses in this city now, and we are barely able to keep our church open; folks are leaving in bunches to join Jane Doe! The carpets and lighting system at John Doe Presbyterian Church put ours to shame, and everybody is talking about it.



It gets worse. Believers within a congregation make comparisons between themselves and with other denominations. It is valid to make observations about such things as incorrect doctrine. Too often, however, the comparisons being made are more along the lines of gossip, accusations, and name-calling. It is sad when a struggling believer turns to his or her fellow Christians for help, only to be frowned upon or talked about. It is unconscionable when a Christian who has a bad past looks for a church to join, only to be turned down and even gossiped about because of that past. How often do many believers say they would never sin the same way someone else has? Sometimes there is also idolization. At times a pastor, theologian, or other strong person of the faith is placed on a pedestal, and any believer who does not measure up to what sort of Christian so-and-so is, is looked down on. Materialism, discrimination based on looks or income, even racism sometimes—all these other negative factors and objects of comparison, plus many more, are in the churches and among Christians. But what does the Word of God have to say?



2 Corinthians 10:12-13:  For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you.



The section of Chapter 10 of 2 Corinthians where this passage is taken from deals with the fact that there were those who took issue with Paul and his ministry. Indeed, there are times when it seemed others discredited him as an apostle because he was not a part of the original disciples of Jesus Christ such as Peter, John, James, and others. Being a humble man of God, Paul knew that his approval came first and foremost from God, not man. He would not take credit for anything which was not due him, nor would he cave in to unjust criticism. The example he set should be one we emulate, as Paul was an ardent and genuine Christ follower (1 Corinthians 11:1). This is true whether we are called to ministry or not.



You see, God made each of us with unique characteristics. Everything that distinguishes us as individuals—our basic personality and physical traits—was laid out by God before we ever existed, and He ensured that the right set of parents would come together to create each of us to His foreordained specifications (Psalm 139:14-16). When we are saved we become part of the family of God and, united as we are in Spirit and in blood, we still retain our individual characteristics. God calls us and the Holy Spirit gives us one or more spiritual gifts (Romans 11:29; 1 Corinthians 12:4-30). Thus, each Christian has a specific place, calling, and function in the body of Christ.



Among ministries, there are differences in those to whom God assigns. For example, Peter was the apostle to the Jews and Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:7-8). There are those who are called to different ministerial offices and may have persons assigned to them by the Lord as diverse as persons in foreign lands, various lost people, and local church congregation members (Ephesians 4:11-16). All believers, whether called of God to actual ministry work or not, still have the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19-20). We are also family in the Lord, and we should love one another and walk in unity (Colossians 3:12-17; Psalm 133:1). How can we do any of these things well, if at all, if we are competing against each other and looking down on those who are not like us? How can we claim that Jesus Christ is our Lord if we have put some prominent preacher or theologian or Christian brother or sister on the throne of our hearts in our eagerness to idolize this man or woman? How can we ever learn to accept who God made us to be if we are comparing ourselves to other people?


We of It Ain’t Over Ministries have had to learn these lessons. Already we have encountered naysayers who have told us there is no way we will ever successfully get this ministry off the ground. Internet trolls have insulted us and have tried to intimidate us. Because of our criminal past there are a lot of churches who do not want us as members, and believers who think we are second-string Christians for the same reason. Some who know of our background will not let us forget it, and can never bring themselves to see us as real Christians, blowing every mistake we make out of proportion. We are not the youngest, slimmest, trimmest, most attractive people out there, nor are we wealthy. Need I say more? Yet we carry on because God has graciously healed us from our own sense of inadequacy and has instilled in us the knowledge of His love and purpose for us. We strive not to compare ourselves to other Christians or other ministries, but to live as disciples of Jesus Christ, intent on fulfilling our God-given purpose and ministry and to rejoice in who He made each one of us to be.



Ephesians 1:3-14:  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.




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