Updated: Mar 4
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you may discern what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
The "pattern of this world" has been erected by its temporary ruler, Satan, to promote his tyrannical kingdom. Within this counterfeit kingdom, "good" is no longer the biblical divine superlative reserved exclusively for God (see John 18:19). Instead, "good" is reduced to that which is "mediocre," or "slightly above average." Those of the world don't seek the "goodness" of God's presence, but instead, as was the case in Eden, the offspring of Adam seek the Serpent's promise of greatness derived from dreaming our own dreams, casting our own visions, making our own plans, seizing our own power, and exercising our own "free" will.
Following the account of Christ's glorious transfiguration in Matthew 17, we discover the disciples were unashamedly bickering about who would be "greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (see Matt 18:1). King Jesus' subsequent revelation exposed perfidious hearts - hearts striving for worldly greatness and having nothing to do with God's mission or kingdom.
“Truly I say to you, if you are not converted and become as the little children, you shall never enter into the kingdom of the heavens. Therefore, whoever will humble himself as this little child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens. And whoever shall receive one such little child in My Name, receives Me. And whoever shall cause to stumble one of these of the little ones believing in Me, it is better for him that a heavy millstone should be hung around his neck, and he be sunk in the depth of the sea." -Matthew 18:3-6
In this contemporary post-postmodernism age of subjective truth, personal autonomy, political correctness, gender ambiguity, wokeness, etc., the local church finds itself in a precarious position. Church leaders could embrace a standard of greatness based on the "pattern of this world:" newest facilities, highest seating capacity, largest attendance, record baptisms, enormous budgets, most satellite campuses, social media followers, merchandise sold, etc., or we could use the divine standard - Christ.
Scripture warned a time would come when false teachers would infiltrate the church... when members would reject the authority of the church and its leaders... when we'd entrust private matters to civil courts and the court of public opinion rather than to pastors and elders... when things like myths and empty speculation would become the focus rather than God's plan... when women would strive for and hold leadership positions as influencers, pastors, and teachers... when the church would abandon all sound doctrine of apostolic authority from divinely appointed leaders... when the church would seek the coolest, most charismatic, most dynamic, and best-educated leaders - just as Israel did in choosing Saul... a time when many would depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.
We are living in such a time.
The Kingdom of Heaven completely inverts "the pattern of this world." If unsure about that statement, just look at King Jesus, the Eternal Son of God. The LORD didn't come on a lofty cloud to preach humility from a gilded throne. Instead, King Jesus, Immanuel, willingly clothed Himself in flesh, preached the Gospel of Grace in our midst, died upon the Cross for our benefit, and then arose in victory over Satan, death, and sin! There truly is no greatness apart from the goodness of God.
In 1 Chronicles 21:1 we read, "Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of the people of Israel." God punished King David and the entire nation for this act of disobedience. Greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven has no correlation with "the pattern of this world." Greatness is never measured in dollars or numbers. Greatness is only ever measured in our relation to the glorious stature of Christ:
"And it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for works of ministry and to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, as we mature to the full measure of the stature of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants..."
The Serpent led Eve into temptation by causing her to ignore divine truth - she already was "like God," and by getting her to obsess over the only boundary God had imposed, "You may eat freely from every tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die." The Enemy has no new plan or plays in his playbook. We can either surrender to God as slaves of Christ - members of His Kingdom... or we can remain surrendered to Satan as slaves in his tyrannical kingdom.
Rebellious infants desire greatness defined by "the pattern of this world." However, the redeemed saints invite and allow supernatural transformation in Christ by the renewing of our minds so we may discern what God's will is, His good pleasing and perfect will. It is only when we are in Christ that true GREATNESS is on display.
Grace and Peace,