2 Timothy 4:3 (NLT)
For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.
Truth can often be a hard pill to swallow.
Especially when it reveals something negative about ourselves.
We are surrounded by life coaches, and self help books, and pastors with big white toothy smiles telling us how to have our “best life now” and yet…we seem to be spiraling out of control at a faster pace than I can recall in my previous 30 years here on this planet.
Back in the late 70’s and 80’s Miller Lite (yes…I’m referencing a beer commercial…don’t flog me please) used to have a commercial with the catchphrase, “Tastes Great! Less filling!” Ironically this was about the same time we began to see “seeker friendly” churches popping up all over the place.
I understand the intent behind the advent of this church model…which was to be more appealing to the lost. Unfortunately I feel it brought with it what I would call the “Jesus Lite” approach to scripture and church life itself…they might as well have adopted their own catch phrase…”Sounds Great! Less offensive!”
This mentality began to seep out of the seeker friendly churches and into your average, everyday churches, as smaller churches began to see enormous numerical growth exploding in these “seeker friendly” churches and sought to model their churches after what they saw. Sadly, what no one realized was that while numbers were growing, the spiritual depth of church members was waning.
Interestingly, in the early to mid-2000’s Willow Creek (a pioneer in the seeker friendly church world) began to do some research and found that….well, they discovered exactly what I mentioned above in their own congregations….that they were growing numerically but not spiritually.
You see, when the message…the truth of God’s word gets compromised for a method…then the mark is missed and spiritual anemia sets in.
Don’t take what I’m saying as harping against contemporary churches. I am a worship leader in one. I totally appreciate the luxuries we have experienced as we introduced new technologies and music and all sorts of other lovely things that we “just can’t live without” today. But please hear me when I say this – these things are not worth a hill of sand if it is not founded upon the truth in God’s word.
It grieves me to say that over the last 20 or so years I have watched as we have begun to see hordes of people running to and fro from one church to another trying to find a pastor who wouldn’t teach about all of those “uncomfortable” things like righteousness, sexual morality, and the full counsel of God (to name a few). We have seen too many church folks seeking pastors and churches that would affirm their behavior without “affirming” their behavior. Seeking very little to no accountability…and heaven forbid a pastor demonstrate spiritual authority over the lives of church members.
And as a result we have pastors falling left and right to sexual sin while other pastors are calling the bible a collection of 2,000 year old irrelevant letters, and still others affirming sin by masking it behind a false sense of “love.”
Church, let’s absolutely use different methods to get the message of the gospel out there….but it is time that we stop forsaking the truth to fill our pews and line our offering coffers. If we really love people….then we will love them enough to speak the hard but true things (in love) when necessary and stop avoiding certain topics because we fear we might lose some tithers.
We need to stop chasing the affections of this world and start chasing the affections of our Savior.
Or have you not heard that the world hated Jesus? How much more do you think it will hate you? And if the world loves you, does that not mean you are of this world? (personal paraphrase of John 15:18)
Winston Churchill once said:
You have enemies? Good! That means you stood up for something, sometime in your life.
Want to love people?
Good! Then get used to the idea of gaining some enemies because if we are going to love people then we need to reflect all of the characteristics of love found in 1 Corinthians 13, and not just the ones that are easy and give us those warm, fuzzy, tingling feelings.
This includes loving and standing up for the truth (v6).
Yes it will be uncomfortable.
Yes you will gain enemies.
No you won’t be the cool kid on the block.
But you will have stood your house upon the Rock, Jesus Christ.
A firm foundation.
Not upon the shifting sands of cultural and relativistic truth that is easily washed away when the storms of life deal out their blows.
And if any of this makes you uneasy….then take the words of Jesus to heart:
John 16:33 (NLT)
I (Jesus) have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”