Platt confronts some of the idolatrous and arrogant temptations in church leadership

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by Michael McEwen

On Tuesday at Southeastern Baptist Theological  Seminary, David Platt addressed some of the temptations in leadership that pastors and churches must be willing to confront and fight as they proclaim the gospel.

Platt, who is pastor of the Church at Brook Hills and author of the books Radical and Radical Together, conveyed to the teeming chapel the various weights a leader and church must be prepared to carry. Opening in a moment of vulnerability, Platt said, “The past months have been difficult for me; although extremely challenging, Exodus 32 and 1 Corinthians 10 are important for us today as we seek to hear God’s Word in light of such challenges.”

After reading from Exodus 32 and 1 Corinthians 10, Platt initiated four challenges for those sitting in the pews of Binkley Chapel. He said, “The text of Exodus 32 teaches us that we will be tempted to become leaders without conviction, tempted to celebrate salvation without dedication, tempted to manufacture worship without humiliation, and we will be tempted to create a god without retribution.”

Contextualized Israel in their exilic journey, Platt said, “These are people who have been delivered out of slavery after miracles and plagues, yet within just a few days they come to Aaron and ask for him to make other gods to worship. And Aaron gives them exactly what they want. A leader gives a sinful people exactly what they want. Just like Aaron, leaders, today, are capable of giving churches exactly what they want, so we must be careful in what we are giving to our people.”

Platt noted that another temptation is for leaders and churches to celebrate salvation without dedication. A vital facet of the Christian faith, Platt commented, is obedience to Christ. He said, “We are free in Christ not to do whatever we want, but to do whatever Christ wants.”

In doing whatever Christ desires necessitates adoration of the King who has redeemed his people, therefore worship should never become static, Platt said. There exists the temptation for Christians to make worship rote and routine, he said, but “where is the awe and weeping in our churches today?” Citing Isaiah 66––‘He was humble and contrite of spirit’––Platt summoned the church leaders to devote themselves to take upon a humble heart before an awesome God in worship.

Platt said that in properly orienting oneself before a holy and redeeming God, we “can defeat the temptation to create a god who is not retributive.” Proceeding from Exodus 32:7-10, Platt said, “The beauty of the golden calf is that Israel can worship and revere it, and the calf can do nothing in return. The point becomes clear: We need a Savior who has taken the wrath for you and me, so humble yourselves before him and he will lift us up as contrite leaders who adore only him.”

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