Here I go just thinkin’ again but I am truly concerned knowing each week a huge number of people will swallow (hook, line, and sinker) a well-prepared sermon devoid of any spiritually meaningful nourishment leaving that place of worship anemic. Walk with me, please.
To me, one of the most frightening aspects of church life today (one that scares the socks off of me) is the feel-good religious experience that is quickly replacing sound biblical preaching and teaching in many of America’s pulpits and some of the largest churches in the world. To this concern theological ethics professor at Duke University, Stanley Hauerwas, writes:
“The greatest enemy of Christianity is not atheism, but sentimentality.”
I find I must agree with Dr. Hauerwas.
Looking then to scripture, 2 Timothy 4:3-4 reads:
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
Sometimes bringing scripture into perspective for the modern reader requires a little touch-up. Here, I would make but one small change so that the verb tense causes the verse to read, “has come” rather than, “is coming.” Truly the time to which Paul referred is here and now, “has come.”
People in the religious community today want to feel good about who they are in spite of clear biblical teaching that may disagree with their self-assessments and certainly with their personal preferences. They look to align with a church and hear a message that will cause them to leave the building on Sunday morning feeling good about themselves, all footloose and fancy-free. They certainly don’t want to pass through the exit doors heavy-hearted, having just heard a message convicting of sin and knowing the next step may be to make things right with someone they have wronged or a change in lifestyle that they might look more like a follower of Jesus than of the world. No, no, no. People want to hear everything is okay, life is grand and the road ahead is pothole free. We want to hear about the benefits of being a Jesus follower, the entitlements that go along with the Christian life, not things like surrender, self-sacrifice and certainly not suffering.
But a church where the pastor’s messages fail to deliver the whole counsel of God, (including the not so pretty, sin is bad, and hell is real stuff also found in the bible) is a dangerous place for your family to spend Sunday’s. Jesus did not die to get a person’s name placed on the Who’s Who list, but to have it written down in the Lambs Book of Life. In my opinion, your best life now is not the one you will find at Barnes & Noble but the one you will see in a life committed to knowing God and fully surrendered to his plans and purposes whatever that might mean and however that might look. To without question whole-heartedly say as did Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me!”
Rant over – for now.