Years ago, our family lived in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. After spending most of my life in Denver, where the streets run north and south in straight lines, Philadelphia threw me for a loop. Literally.
Many of the roads in Philly date back hundreds of years. One of the main roads in an outlying town is called “Cowpath Road.” Obviously, the road was a converted cow path. Cows don’t walk in straight lines. This is just one of many examples of Philadelphia’s meandering roads.
So at times, when the traffic on the two-lane roads backed up, I tried taking side streets to get ahead. On more than one occasion, my “shortcut” brought me back to my starting point. I was literally driving in circles.
That’s often the case when we take shortcuts in our lives.
Shortcuts To God Will Lead You Nowhere
Growing up in the church, I’ve witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly in church leadership. At various stages in my life as a pastor, I must admit that I’ve done my part in presenting a poor example of leadership as well. So please understand that I’m not casting stones.
Our human nature gravitates toward following charismatic individuals who speak to us on behalf of God. Often, this is the result of our laziness. Relying on someone who will “stand in” for God is like opting for the Cliff’s Notes version of a great novel. Rather than read the Bible for ourselves and seek an intimate relationship with God, we prefer that someone do it for us.
Moses, Israel’s first great leader, was concerned that after he died, they would follow false prophets who would lead them away from God. So Moses warned Israel, “It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere” (Deuteronomy 13:4).
When our walk with God is dependent upon the leaders we follow, we set ourselves up for tremendous disappointment and pain.
Pastors, TV preachers, televangelists, and authors all must be compared with the plumb line of Scripture. Just because they say something that sounds good, or they say something that we want to be true—doesn’t make it true! Many have led well-meaning believers astray. And history continues to repeat itself.
Not long ago, I witnessed a church split that affected thousands of people. Some of the people who were damaged by the fallout were devastated and vowed never again to return to church or trust a church leader. In my judgment, far too many of those people needlessly followed the Senior Pastor rather than God.
My friends, please join me in following Moses’ advice. Let’s follow God and avoid the unnecessary disappointment and pain that inevitably meets people who depend on fallible men and women for their walk with God.
Shortcuts in our walk with God lead us nowhere.
What shortcuts have you tried in your walk with God? Where did they lead you? If you were hurt from the experience, how did you recover? Have you recovered?
Why would God want us to avoid following people instead of him?
What does this tell you about God?
Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott.