Cart Before the Horse

In their album, THE CHURCH, Lamp mode records, in their song on Membership, say, “Church wasn’t created to cater to your convenience. Right here stands a very critical point of truth for anyone of us. Many of us love it when things are done in a manner that soothes rather than rubs. When the Church becomes a place where we want our desires and egos to be massaged, then the Church has lost its meaning. In our era, this is most necessary, especially among the young people in the fellowships. 

To have a Biblical culture sustained in trying times, we need people to hand it down deliberately. A fundamental principle in scripture is obedience. We see it from Genesis to Revelation. Adam and Eve (Genesis 1- 3) disobeyed, so did Cain (Genesis 4) and Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). Their end was judgment due to rebellion.

Background

On the other hand, Abraham obeyed (Genesis 11-12), so did Noah (Genesis 6-7) and Abel (Genesis 4). Their obedience afforded them grace before the LORD. The phrase ‘Obedience is better than sacrifice’ comes during the times of the kings when kind Saul rebelled against the word of the LORD by the prophet Samuel to look good before the people (1 Samuel 15:22). Jesus said if we love him, we will keep or obey his commands (John 14:15). This theme is spread across the scriptures for someone to ignore its existence. Nevertheless, there is a plague sweeping over the fellowships, silently burying this principle in loads of religious activity, and I will share how it is happening. 

You probably come from a fellowship that encourages and urges the young people to come in their droves and serve in the fellowship. I mean, who in their right mind would not want to see a bunch of young people filling the church compounds with their energy and availability? Who would not want to see many youths serving in the ministry? As it is, we are in the heart of what the Roman philosopher and politician Cicero (106 B.C.–43 B.C.) mentions in his essay called “On Friendship”, published in 44 B.C. “We put the cart before the horse…” in many of our lives today. This expression is an idiom urging us not to do things in the wrong order. For instance, we cannot plan how to spend money that we do not have. The cart must always be behind the horse. There is an order in the believer’s life that cannot be ignored or overridden regardless of how well-meaning one’s desires are for the ministry. Obedience comes first as a stamp for the ministry we do in Church. 

LEVEL 1 OBEDIENCE

Jesus said, “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24). And Paul added in Romans 8:8-9 that those in the flesh (unregenerated) cannot please God. He echos the reality of the sinner and their incapability to serve the master in Ephesians 2:1-3. Our first level of obedience is about the Gospel that brings salvation (Romans 1:16-17). Have you been freed from the burden of sin? If not, you can’t serve God in the ministry. Whoa! That sounds mean and exclusive! It is not mean but, indeed, exclusive. Serving the master is not for all and sundry but only for the redeemed! 

In this era of talent and ‘come as you are’ Gospel, we must remind our young people that service finds stamping at the cross; there we lay our lives down in surrender and no longer live for ourselves but to the Lord alone. Scripture calls it salvation or walking in the Spirit or made alive! If talent was all that mattered, then Christ’s death on the cross has no value at all. For, many are singers and instrumentalists; many are eloquent speakers and enabled in other various ways. However, not as many appreciate the call to crucify the flesh (Romans 6:11). Do you have a relationship with the Lord, or you are depending only on talent? Many pastors will need to answer for misleading youth into thinking they are in service for Christ while their hearts are far from surrender, as they benefited from their skills for their selfish gains. We must tell ourselves the truth- there is no ministry without surrender! If unbelievers will not stand before the presence of the Lord justified, much more serving in the fellowship? Do not be a biblical busy body young man/ woman. Be a biblical saint. Remember that only ‘whoever believes’ can serve God now and later, stand in his presence fully justified!

LEVEL 2 OBEDIENCE

The other plague I see in the ministry among youth is the failure to see the connection between Church activity and their home responsibility. I know this is a touchy matter to many, but I know it is still a biblical conversation. I have heard 23-year-olds referred to as dads and moms because of their leadership role in the Christian unions. Well, until we understand the weight of some matters, we may never get to apply terms properly. Let me pull this point from a basic level and try to help us pursue a holistic view of our roles as young people in the fellowship. Remember, obedience is better than sacrifice. 

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1). We all know this text. Whatever we make of this text, one thing is for sure- it does not give us conditions that our parents need to fulfil that need to catalyze our response. God will deal with our not so loving, present, kind, providing, and respectable parents. In the meantime, God calls us to obey them- however, their disposition! That is tough but biblical. The question to young people is, “In this matter, do you prefer obedience or convenience?” It is paradoxical to claim love for an invisible God and express a lack of it for the visible men and women. Are we putting the cart before the horse? Are we concerned about what others out there, who may not have a history of our homes, think and not what the LORD up above commands? We need young people who have a biblical drive to lead other youth devoid of biblical focus. That is the only way we will establish a culture of biblical living. I believe that God is serious about the blessing that comes in obeying our parents no matter what they did or are doing. If we lead others, then we must agree to be led by the Lord. 

CONCLUSION

There is great joy in serving the Lord. There is greater joy in serving with the full blessing of God. This blessing is based on obedience. When we agree to take up those leadership roles, let us be reminded that God has a command over us as a youth- obey your parents in the LORD. Obedience is the horse, and ministry is the cart. Do not interchange this order. It has no blessing whatsoever!

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