Sideshows
Monday, May 2, 2011

 

“I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God . . . because that is why I was sent.” (Luke 4:31)

 

                A sideshow was a gimmick of the circus era.  People came to see the circus, but they were distracted and robbed of their earnings by the sensational, which took away the joy of the main event.  Jesus hated sideshows.  He knew they took the focus off the centrality of His message.  And whenever sideshows would occur, He pointed back to the central message – the Kingdom of God.  Whenever the religious leaders of His time on earth would try to create sideshows of His miracles, signs and wonders, He simply shut them down.  There was always a purpose for His miracles and that purpose was entirely consistent in whatever He did, and that purpose was to point to the Kingdom of God.

 

                On one occasion the Pharisees challenged Jesus to give them a sign from heaven, particularly as it related to driving out the demonic.  Jesus response was simply to point to the Kingdom of God.  He said, “If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then you will know the Kingdom of God is among you.”  It was in fact sideshows that Satan thought would be the ideal way to stop the onslaught of the Kingdom.  When he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, each temptation was to take Jesus’ mind off the message and put it on the sideshow.  First, turn a rock into bread.  Make a simple miracle happen.  To which Jesus responded, “Man does not live by bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Secondly, Satan said, “Jump off the building, and the angels will rescue you.”  Ah, here is the perfect way to get Jesus off message.  Do the spectacular!  Let all Jerusalem see you are the protected one of God!  Start your ministry right.  To which Jesus replied, “It is written, ‘do not put your Lord your God to the test.’”  And finally, Satan offered Jesus the ultimate sideshow – the easy way to the throne: no three years of no place to lay your head; no ridicule or persecution; no trials; no whips; no crown of thorns; and most of all, no cross.  Simply stay focused on the sideshow and you can avoid all that.  To which Jesus replied, “Away from Me Satan.  It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”

 

                The sideshows have always detracted men from the centrality of the cross – the Good News of the Kingdom of God.  Sideshows come in various forms.  Legalism is a sideshow which directs believers’ attention away from loving God and neighbor, to following the edicts of men.  We make rules that God never made and begin to worship those rules, forgetting the central focus of our faith.  Some would believe based on the sideshows of modern Christianity that Jesus condemned wine at the wedding; focused the Sermon on the Mount on the evils of dancing; and gave us the Lord’s Prayer as a dictate of exact words to pray.  Legalism is worshipping the traditions and rules of men, even when such rules cannot be found in God’s word.

 

                Another sideshow common to our era is liberalism – dismissing the Word of God for the wisdom of men.  We see this as the liberal church dismisses God’s teaching on the sanctity of life and marriage.  We see it as they dismiss the Scriptures as having relevance for our time.  We see it as they dismiss the centrality of the cross, the power of the resurrection, and the Kingdom of God.  Liberalism is a very distracting sideshow that diminishes God and exalts humanity.  And this sideshow has no good news for eternity, for it is set on worshipping the few years we have on earth.

 

                Another sideshow of the modern era is the experiential.  To hear some churches preach, God exists for healing, for turning teeth to gold, for laughing in the isles, dancing on the stages, and generally making a show of God’s divine power.  The Holy Spirit’s job according to these churches is to heal, and make a show of God.  No longer in these churches is the Spirit’s job to point to Christ, but to fix the problems of mankind.  In their wake they leave disillusioned people whose loved ones died of cancer; whose businesses fail; and whose relationships are in shambles.  They attract the people who want to see the show, instead of entering into a transforming relationship with the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. 

                 Jesus hated sideshows, and we must too.  We must love what He loved.  We can love the law and indeed that is a natural outflow of loving Christ, without becoming legalists.  We can love our neighbors, without forsaking God as the source of our love.  And we can experience the power of the Holy Spirit, without focusing on the gifts instead of the Giver.  The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom where what the King wants done, gets done.  And what the King wants done is simple:  Love Him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength; and to love one another as Christ loved us.  That is a message that is eternal and never grows old.  There is no need for sideshows in our modern era any more than there was a need in the wilderness of temptation.

Kingdom Road Ministries
PO Box 503
10 South Main, Suite 201
Victor, ID 83455
903-262-5088
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