Temptations in the Crowds

October 6, 2006

What a privilege it was this past weekend to gather with the congregation and elders of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman to install Thabiti Anyabwile as their new senior pastor!  The congregation and elders are a sweet, faith-full group of brothers and sisters who have spent 3 years looking for a main preaching elder/senior pastor.  And now God has wonderfully led them to Thabiti.

One concern I expressed which I’ll share with you because I think it applies to many Christians, and especially to ministers, is with the danger of popularity.  I preached from Mark 1:29-34, noting that Jesus was powerful, popular and puzzling.  Considering Jesus’ popularity, I exhorted Thabiti to

"Learn from these early days of Jesus’ ministry. He was popular. As yet, he appeared to pose no threat to others whose ministries he criticized (Pharisees, Sadducees). He was popular. People spoke well of Him, and surged to hear Him. And yet, popularity is not to be trusted. Popularity is to be received more as a test than a gift. It is remarkable in these early months that Jesus resisted the temptations that beset Him. We think of the Temptations in the wilderness, but there were temptations in the crowds as well. He was a compassionate man. He saw the needs that He was meeting. Did He never feel tempted to think that the universally popular ministry of helping peoples’ physical needs could be His way of blessing the sinful, cursed children of Adam, rather than to endure the painful cross?"

Pray for wisdom and faithfulness for Thabiti, and for ourselves, to God’s glory.  May God teach us how to beware of the temptations in the crowds.