Vicarious Faith

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. ~ Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)

Have you ever seen the videos, or heard the stories, about Little League parents? If not, it goes something like this. The parents believe that their eight-year-old son, or daughter, is playing in the World Series of baseball. Everything is on the line. An umpire makes a call against their child which they don’t agree with, so they begin screaming foulness at the umpire, some even throw things. Even worse, some wait in the parking lot for when the game is over to beat down the disrespectful umpire. It’s horrible. And, of course, the kids are caught in the middle and get to witness their parents behaving like complete lunatics. It’s not a good model.

The reality is that the parents aren’t really upset at the umpire. The truth is that their entire existence has become about their child succeeding, and they will steamroll anyone in their way to make sure that it happens. This is what is called living vicariously through their child. In other words, the success of the child equals a success of the parents. A failure of the child is a failure of the parents. You see how this works?

Unfortunately, Christians can behave in the same way when it comes to their church experience. They live vicariously through their worship experience. If it’s too loud, they complain. If the singers were off pitch, they complain. If the windows have fingerprints on them, they complain. If the sermon wasn’t what they were expecting, they complain.

The issue is that all they do is complain. They don’t ever volunteer to help either fix the situation or help encourage and equip others. That’s not biblical. Instead, the Scriptures tell us, “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” In other words, we aren’t to be complainers, we’re to be doers, fixers, trainers, contributors. We’re supposed to be looking to lift others up.

So, this weekend, if you’re tempted to complain, don’t. Instead, take a deep breath, and encourage those who have volunteered to serve the body of Christ.

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