Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Wisdom Wednesday: Never Fear the Truth
Occasionally, I get to have fun and compelling conversations. Last night, I met my new neighbor and it just might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Amazingly, while our kids played together in our back yards, we just began talking about church and scripture. We discussed grace and works and how they are supposed to work in the life of a Christian and then we got to a great topic that I love, truth.
Both of us have talked about previous frustrations with the church because a lot of people that are sitting nice and comfortable in their pews have a little problem. They love the seats so much that all they want to do is sit there and take in good news. You know, the pastor tells us that Jesus loves us, we’re forgiven, our lives are great and that we are all already on the gospel ship headed for heaven. Everyone loves that.
However, that is where a lot of churches end. If you’ve ever seen the movie A Few Good Men, you know that famous Jack Nicholson line: “You can’t handle the truth!” Ever been in a church where the pastor steps on your toes, figuratively, not physically. He gives you something from God’s Word and it hits your life because it’s something that’s not quite right in your living. You leave and go sit at the lunch table with friends and say “That pastor offended me. I’m living a good life. He’s picking on me. WAHHHHHH!” OK, maybe you don’t do the WAHHHHHH part, but you get the idea. You go home and stomp around about it some more. You start throwing things (I don’t recommend this, especially breakable stuff) and you feel better. Then you decide that you’re never going to that church again. Then you go to another church and the same thing happens. Pretty soon, you run out of churches to go to (if that’s possible). Then you quit going to church.
That’s why I try to give it to you straight here. Here’s the reason. I have a responsibility, given to me by God. I chose to teach you something here on the website to help you get closer to God. You may not get closer to me. You may get mad. You may tell your friends that I don’t know what I’m talking about. You’ll stomp around like before. But I want you to do one of three things. First, think about it. Really think about it. Secondly, pray about it. God may be able to add something to what I said. Finally, if you’ve talked to God about it and still think I’m crazy, send me an email. I get these all the time. I won’t even get mad. I will reply and send you a note telling you what I think of what you said. I may give you supporting scripture or I might even agree with you. I know, you’re going, “Wh-, wh-, what?” Occasionally, I’ll give you credit for thinking about it and tell you that I can see your side of things.
If you feel the need to email me, do it anytime to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can let me have it, but you can also encourage me or just say hey. You can also tell me more about what you think of the total ministry or even make suggestions. Why do I open that up and why do I take time to give that info to you every once in a while? Well, I look at it this way. If you’ve taken time to come and visit my ministry and take even more time to think about it, then I absolutely wholeheartedly need to think about your comments.
Back to what we were talking about. Sometimes, it isn’t that people are afraid of the Word, it’s that pastors and teachers are afraid of saying it. Why would this happen? As I told you earlier, I realize the responsibility that I have from God to tell you the truth. Some of these people in the front of congregations are ordained and have an even higher calling of God to give you God’s truth. Here are a few of the reasons that it happens.
1. The pastors/teachers are afraid to offend the congregation. See, as the congregation, we have two ways of true response when we’re offended. First case, we leave. We decide that we can’t take the beating and we go elsewhere. Worst case, we stop giving. We take the “I’ll stick it to the man of God by hitting him where he hurts, in his wallet.” Or in the wallet of the church. You may find this hard to believe, but some churches actually worry about where the money is, or isn’t, coming from. Pastors /teachers that have to worry about this, for a variety of reasons that I won’t get into, curtail the hard messages and give you what you wanna hear because the coffers get fuller when they do. It’s a shame when this happens, but a preacha gotta eat too.
2. Pastors/teachers lose faith in the message. Why have I done a few topics on encouraging your church leaders? Because I know that they get beaten down too. Probably 99% of what a leader hears are the negatives. You know, my marriage is in trouble, my kid is a heathen, my wife nags me too much, my boss is a jerk, staff member x isn’t doing his/her job, etc., etc. All they hear is how horrible lives of believers are. After a while, they start thinking, “Am I really reaching these people?” They are, but the people who are doing what God has given them don’t say a whole lot, unless they are encouraged to do so.
3. Pastors/teachers feel like they have to teach their own agenda. I’m not always saying this is a bad thing. Let me explain. Some pastors get their messages from God (Did he just say that? Yes, I did.). They set a schedule based on what God is giving them. In their minds, these messages are set in stone. Not light rock, the heavy stuff. Say something happens, either God gives them another message or something in the world happens that needs immediate attention. Events like 9/11, Columbine, and Hurricane Katrina come to mind. Unfortunately, I can’t think of any good opposites at the moment, but something that needs NOW attention. Some couldn’t just slide their messages a week. Nope, what God gave me is too important.
Then there are some that set up an agenda. You know, I’m gonna preach giving on the first Sunday of every month because that’s when the senior citizens get paid or the fifteenth because of state employees getting paid. I’m gonna teach on love two weeks before Christmas, the Christmas message right before Christmas and how if you don’t believe in Jesus that you’ll go to hell on Christmas and Easter because the most heathens come to church at those times. These guys almost never listen to God and think like most current events teachers in high schools. They never hit the truth because they are being topical and hip. If I want a hip pastor, I’ll invent American Idol the Church or CSI the Church. Imagine coming every Sunday to those.
You get the idea. Sometimes people aren’t the problem. The biggest problem in the church today is that the truth isn’t being taught. Today’s Wisdom from the words of Proverbs is the following from chapter nine. I’ll start in verse seven and go through verse twelve.
Pro 9:7 "Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.
Pro 9:8 Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you.
Pro 9:9 Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.
Pro 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Pro 9:11 For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.
Pro 9:12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer."
When people, pastors/teachers/laymen, give correction, the people that hear that correction aren’t always wanting to be corrected. However, verses 8-9 give us insight into the real result of truth. If you correct a person that is really intent on learning, he’ll love you and get smarter. That’s what I want. You don’t have to love me, but I do want you to grow in wisdom. The real payoffs are in verses 11-12. You’ll live a longer life on average if you take in wisdom and that wisdom will reward you in your life. Does that mean you’ll get rich? Financially, maybe not, but in the membrane, you’ll be endlessly rewarded. Also, you’ll be living a blessed life of God. That’s what I want most for you, a blessed life from our Heavenly Father.
I love you guys!