Getting myself in deep doo-doo when I write about people, things and issues I feel rather strongly about is not unusual for me, I’ve grown accustomed to the scent. Take politics, for example. Come November 8, Americans will commandeer polling places throughout the country to elect the 45th president of the United States. As I believe the republican party to best represent my faith views, that’s the box I will in all likelihood stand up on. I know that comment by itself will find several friends ready to toss me in the litter box, and that’s okay, but that’s not what I want to get on my soapbox with today.
Let’s talk about “Preachers”, and in particular, those men and women of the cloth who expound something resembling the gospel, but slam on the brakes a verse or two before going all in. Theirs is a message popular amongst those looking for the good life and when their viewing audience hear the good life is, “in the name of Jesus”, just around the corner, right there in the neighborhood. They pull out the checkbook, fill in the blanks, or go online with a credit card and wait the six weeks or so for the map to show up in the mailbox.
The map most often comes in the form of a well written motivational book with page after page of “X marks the spot” biblically based expressions composed by bible spin doctors whose spin sends the selected verses and passages spinning light years away from the author’s intended meaning and in total disregard to contextual boundaries.
Many of these “preachers” have risen to celebrity status with their message of tolerance and acceptance. Sin is a word absent from their vocabularies and they most always choose to take the expressway rather than get down in the dirt on the back roads confronting questions revolving around issues such as marriage, the sanctity of life, homosexuality and opposing world views head on with what the bible clearly teaches. I suppose choosing to dodge a bullet rather than take one will play in favor of the “ministries” longevity, keeping the show on the air.
It is true, what they all say, however. God does love everyone, and no one is favored above another. But make no mistake about it, God hates sin and will judge the sinner. Regardless of how comfy-cozy a sermon may sound, if a question mark appears in your mind – investigate. Is it the Holy Spirit prompting you to check out what you just heard? To put it on the scales alongside other biblical passages and see which direction they tip in? The Berean’s didn’t just hop aboard the bus of Paul’s preaching – they opened the book and searched out the matter for themselves being certain the apostle wasn’t just another religious sounding scoundrel with a personal agenda (Acts 17:11). I don’t know that they would have grabbed a handful of stones had they found him in error. The flavor of the text does seem to suggest that group of believers took scripture most seriously though – shouldn’t we do the same?
May I both encourage and challenge you to take a close look at those you are following and receiving spiritual counsel from. Following Jesus is not a cure-all for every ill and nowhere in scripture do we find spiritual life a rose garden without thorns. God didn’t put a money tree in Eden but even if he had, unfortunately, that gate was put under lock and key seven or eight thousand years ago. Sorry about that guys and gals.