What do you think God is looking for? – Jeremy Austill

“How you view God determines how you see the world around you. How you see the world around you reveals how you view God.”

Today we host our annual Fine Arts Festival. This gathering is an extension of Tennessee Youth Movement (TYM) and the Assemblies of God (AG) which provides opportunity for students to cultivate and learn to steward the gifts and call of God on their lives. Some who are reading this are well versed in Fine Arts; bear with me as I fill in the blanks for those who are not. For a couple of days students from across our state will give presentations in various arenas of ministry such as preaching, singing, drama, etc. As they give their presentation, evaluators will watch and listen, give them a score and offer some helpful instruction and encouragement. At the conclusion of the event, awards are given for those who attained the highest scores.

I have been around Fine Arts in some capacity for the last 20 years. I am a believer in the benefits of the ministry as it pertains to local church youth ministries and individual students. However, I am also very aware of some of the negative stigma attached to the ministry and the potential pitfalls. As a matter of fact, I have personally made the argument, at various times in my life, about the dynamics within Fine Arts that are detrimental if not stewarded appropriately. Yes, it can become a glorified talent competition…a bootleg version of America’s Got Talent. Yes, it can further perpetuate an obsession with stage performance. Yes, it can ingrain in someone an unhealthy spirit of competition. Yes, people’s motives can become very self-centered. Yes, it can foster entitlement and wrong motives for doing ministry. Yes, someone’s motives can gravitate more around performance and winning than around honoring the Lord. Need I go on? The list can can get lengthy of the reasons to complain and criticize this ministry. It would be easy to assume God has a cynical eye toward Fine Arts. But does he? Is God cynical? Is God looking for wrongs?

“The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)

“The LORD looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God.” (Psalm 14:2)

“But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.” (John 4:23)

How you view God determines how you see the world around you. How you see the world around you reveals how you view God. For many, we are quick to be critical, “discern” the bad or error, condemn that which seems spiritually unhealthy and label something negatively because we have in our subconscious the idea that God is searching the earth looking for error, wrong motives and contradictory scenarios. I can honestly say through the years I have taken delight in being someone who could identify the negatives. It gives one a sense of superiority to criticize something others enjoy. That isn’t necessarily discernment. More than likely, if one is routinely cynical, an inaccurate perspective of God is at the roots of the soul. I’m not sure the Lord needs “motives police”. Certainly, in the Body of Christ we must, through loving community, hold one another accountable in the deep places of the soul, but we must first examine our hearts to ensure we have not misperceived God.

I’m not naive, this weekend at our Fine Arts festival there will be some participating who have wrong motives and check some of the boxes of the negatives of Fine Arts. However, God’s eyes will not be looking for them. God will be searching…seeking…looking for…those who are worshipping in spirit and truth…those who are seeking Him…those who are fully committed to Him. Since that’s what God looks for in the earth, maybe we should make that our own practice as well.

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