Friday, October 24, 2003
The first hijackers I remember in the headlines were terrorists who kidnapped airplanes and their passengers and released them if and when their demands were met. But since the events of September 11, 2001, the word "hijacker" has taken on a new and more deadly significance. Now we know it can mean someone who takes over a plane and its passengers with the intent of using that plane as a deadly weapon. On a smaller scale, some of our big cities have had to deal with the relatively new threat of carjacking, where a criminal forcibly takes over the car of some unfortunate driver. I think most of us would agree, hijacking in any form is wrong, and it should be punished with serious penalties.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Hijackers in the Church."
Now that's one place you wouldn't expect to find hijackers - in the church. Oh, but they're there. If a hijacker is someone who tries to take over what belongs to someone else, to use it for their own ends, well then we've got quite a few hijackers in the church.
In order to understand this phenomenon of spiritual hijacking, you have to start with Jesus' powerful words in Matthew 16:18, our word for today from the Word of God. He says: "I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." We've got to be clear, and we've got to never forget, whose church it is. Jesus says it's His church. Not the pastor's, not the deacons', not the elders', not the wealthy people in the church. It belongs to Jesus because He purchased His people with His blood.
It's pretty serious business when someone tries to use His people for their own ends ... when someone uses His church to teach things that contradict His teachings or His lifestyle. And it could be that along the way, probably without you realizing it, you've inadvertently begun hijacking what belongs to Jesus for your own ends - making it an instrument of your will instead of His will.
Jesus' church gets hijacked when we start to use it to advance our own ego trip, to build our kingdom, not just His; to advance our own personal agenda, which may have little to do with His agenda. Of course, we're smart enough to wrap our agenda in spiritual words, but He knows the heart behind the words, the motives behind our efforts to get our own way using His name. For some who tend to be controlling people, it's hard to leave that at the door of the church. Maybe you've been using your abilities or your persuasiveness or your giving to try to control a church that is supposed to be controlled by the One who gave His life for her.
Grudges, axes to grind, prejudices, making our personal tastes into spiritual measuring sticks - they all poison His church and tend to hijack it from His purposes. In 3 John 9, God describes one of the church's early would-be hijackers - Diotrephes, "who loves to be first." Wow! That love is really the essence of most spiritual hijackings. Paul describes the ultimate issue behind most of the pain and dysfunction in the church this way: "Everyone looks out for His own interests, not those of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 2:21).
It's time many of us got on our knees and prayed Jesus' Gethsemane prayer, "Not my will, but Thine be done." It's His Church! You and I have no right to hijack what cost Him everything He had.