What do you get when you have 27 campuses, 8 different states, and a Bible app that’s been downloaded 100 million times? If that’s not a megachurch, I don’t know what is. So this week’s Monday Morning Pastor features Craig Groeschel, head Pastor of Life.Church. This church is known for having a large online presence with many campus sites. The main campus is based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The church is estimated to have a 42,000 plus weekly membership. It’s said to be the largest multi-site church in the US. The title of this Sunday’s sermon was “Overcoming the Curse of Comparing”.
So the sermon opens with a video of woman in black and white. The woman’s voice is in the background talking about not being defined by others. Pastor Groeschel begins discussing how people often compare themselves today. He shares a story about messing with his younger sister growing up. He pretended to receive more money than her on their shared birthday. She would cry every time until one birthday she received more money, and he cried.
It’s at this point we reach our first buzz line. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I define it in my first Monday Morning Pastor post here. He states, “The fastest way to kill something special is to compare it to something else.” He tosses out another line, “Where comparison begins, contentment ends.” Groeschel quotes a couple of megachurch pastors this sermon. The first person he quotes is our previous Monday Morning Pastor Steven Furtick, who expresses “One compares their behind the scenes with others highlights”.
2 Corinthians 10:12
Pastor Groeschel cites 2 Corinthians 10:12 which states, “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.” He explains from this that comparing makes you feel inferior or superior, and neither honors God. What I find different compared to our previous sermon review is the lack of frequent applause or playing of music during his sermon. That’s a good thing.
He next cites Andy Stanley who expresses, “Everybody wants that with er, greater” Craig Groeschel goes a step further and states, “I want est, greatest”. He talks about everyone wants that, and people are holier than thou if they don’t admit that. I would question whether everyone really wants to have better than others or be the best. I’ve known people who are content with their status and letting others have the spotlight.
Peter and John
Pastor Groeschel suggests Peter and John didn’t like each other from what he learned in seminary school. He concludes John was annoying for referring to himself in the third person, because people who do that are annoying. I would assume he doesn’t find Jesus annoying of course. Mr. Groeschel believes the person John is referring to as “the one Jesus loves” is John himself. I would agree that John 21:24 seems to suggest that to be the case. Citing John 20:2-5, he suggests it shows that John was showing how much better he was than Peter in noting he outran him. He also cites the fishing story in John 21 where the one who Jesus loves recognizes Jesus first.
Groeschel then uses John 21:20-22 to prove that people shouldn’t focus on other people but focus on what their assignment is. Peter asks what about the other disciple after being told to follow Jesus. Jesus tells Peter it has nothing to do with him, and that he just needs to follow Him (Jesus). Groeschel states one can’t faithfully follow Jesus if one compares themselves to someone else. He explains that people do it to find external satisfaction to satisfy themselves internally. He says there’s nothing on the outside that can satisfy one besides the God who created them.
Very important question
Groeschel tells his audience that one has to answer a very important question right. If they don’t answer it right, they will be miserable for the rest of their life. “Who or what is going to define my worth?” He says people living up to other’s expectations won’t define it. He uses Hebrews 12:1-2b to conclude a person should run the race they’re called to and fix their eyes on Jesus. Using 1 Corinthians 9:24-26, Groeschel states one should run for the eternal prize by running one’s own divine purpose. He encourages people celebrate others successes which they can learn from.
Groeschel’s final thoughts
Pastor Groeschel closes on a self-reflective note. Every year He and his wife find one word for the year to focus on. He states God revealed to him that his word was “focus”. He talked about how he doesn’t do what his peers do with TV ministry, he doesn’t go around preaching at different churches throughout the year, and he doesn’t have his church do conferences. He sees his peers doing it and feels tempted looking at their successes. But the pastor tells his audience that his lane is building churches, stating life change happens best when people are plugged into local churches. He also sees his lane is building leaders to change the world. Groeschel states his final lane is building up pens commending him for years of serving with integrity with no church scandals.
His final words encourage the audience to run their race and trust God will be faithful. He states one can’t win their race focusing on others. He says one has to focus on Jesus, run with purpose, and He’ll define their work. By doing this, Groeschel concludes one will receive a heavenly crown and not an earthly crown.
My final thoughts
I would say the message was admirable. One should focus on living their faith and doing their best to glorify God. It’s also a team sport. We’re all wearing the same jerseys and doing our best to honor God. I thought it was great the message didn’t close with a conclusion that doing all these things will get you the things you want. He just closed by expressing God will make sure you’re doing okay with your race, and you’ll get to the prize of eternity with God.
I would question the assertion that John and Peter didn’t like each other. There’s no verse that states that to be case. The details of John outrunning Peter could just be an accurate retelling of the story. In which case, the foundation of the sermon would seem to fall apart, since it’s based on believing that John and Peter were competitive against each other. But the main point is still valid. Unfortunately I found it hard not to think the ending sinks everything into quicksand with the false teaching of receiving salvation through a sinner’s prayer.
We all grow up learning things a certain way, but it’s important we come to our own conclusion on those things. I know I have. Have you?
Peace to all those who are in Christ.