March 19, 2012
I grew up, off and on, in a rather mild Methodist church and my wife was in a rather laid back Lutheran one though Methodists were once call shoutin’ Methodists and we all know the stir Luther made back in the day. Things mellowed out over the years.
At 20 and 21, my wife and I were saved in a rather mild GARBC Baptist church in Delaware. My college was Independent Baptist, but for the most part they were rather demure though a few students were from rip snortin’ churches. The independent church I was attending was also somewhat laid back though the pastor was renown as a great pulpiteer.
It was not until after college that I got exposed to some real rip snortin’ preachers and I was still fairly young in the Lord and thought this was the way it was supposed to be. Screaming and yelling was being bold and bitter sarcasm was contending for the faith when more often than not it was just being rude and contentious. I changed when God allowed one of those preachers to turn his buzz saw on me. God asked me if I liked that and I said no. He said, don’t you do it.
I have been amazed and sometimes shocked when I see some of the comments from professing Christians on the Internet. Then I remember in times past I also got caught up in the emotions of discussions though I have sought to change and find balance and speak the truth in love, not sarcasm, rancor and bitterness. I have tried not to use the buzz saw though there have been times I have forgotten when I came from and had to repent.
When I read about Christ and the Apostles I do not see anything like I see in many churches and hear or read from pastors and Christians in general on the Net.
51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. KJV
James and John would be known as the sons of thunder after this event and there seems to be many of their kin alive today. I can see why they were upset. Why would these people not make room for Christ? Well, Jews and Samaritans did not have the best of relationships and when it was perceived that He was heading to Jerusalem they felt no compunction to help Him on His way to a place filled with people that hated them.
James and John in their anger lost the whole point of Jesus’ mission. I am afraid so have a great many who profess to be followers of Christ. The Gospel is about redemption. Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. He came this time to save. The next time He comes it will be as Judge. Too many of us want to be judges and not rescuers and redeemers.
That doesn’t mean you have to compromise the Word or not call sin what is, but it also doesn’t mean you have to be hateful when you are supposed to be bringing a message of grace. I was taught to even be careful of my gestures when preaching because extending both of your fists saying, “God loves you” in a stern voice sends a mixed message.
How much more if we say God came to save someone and yet at the same time we browbeat them about their sins. Most people know their sins. The odd thing is more sinners know how Christians should live than many Christians. Often we scream louder about the sins committed by sinners than about the sins of the saints. By the way, sinners are going to act like sinners and saints are supposed to act like saints. We have some major work to do in that area. After all, of what spirit are we?
23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.
2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?
5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people. KJV
Paul did not know Ananias was the high priest when he yelled at him. He was right on all counts. It was wrong for him to be smitten and Ananias was a hypocrite and a whited wall. YET, once it was revealed to him that he was the high priest he apologized. Paul was right to be offended and his rights had been violated illegally and unjustly, but he apologized for the Word said to respect the office, if not the man.
In the military I was taught the same. I saluted officers that I had no respect for but I was to respect the rank. Christians seem to have no respect for authority. They bad mouth their pastors, teachers as well as the government leaders and wonder why their kids are rebellious. Respect the office or the position if not the man. That doesn’t mean you like all that they do or all that they are, but you are to show respect. We are commanded to intreat an elder/pastor. We would do well to apply that to other positions of authority as well.
1 Peter 2:13-17
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. KJV
Remember where Paul was in those days? He was in the Roman Empire and it was an unrighteous government and empire. Sin abounded and yet neither Christ nor the Apostles called for the government to be overthrown or for Caesar to be removed. The Pharisees tried to play that game and Christ said to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” Christ did not support the Zealots or the Herodians. He was apolitical for He came to save souls and change lives, not governments or nations. Governments and nations are changed by souls that are saved and lives that are changed. We have missed the boat and got off mission, which is why things are not as we might like to see them. Christians were told to fear God and honour the King. Hello, that meant Caesar and Herod, both wicked and corrupt men. They were also commanded to pray positively for them not like some of the prayers I have seen on the Net! Of what spirit are ye?
1 Tim 3:2-3
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; KJV
A final thought and exhortation to pastors. What part of not being a brawler do you not understand? Contend for the faith and sound doctrine, but not as a loud mouthed boxer or wrestler. There is s pastor that bills himself as the most controversial preacher in America. I do not see in 1 Timothy 3 where that is something we are to strive to be. You can preach the truth in a monotone or as kind a voice as possible and still cause a controversy. When truth and lie meet there is going to be a conflict, but the strife and contention should be on the evil side, not on the side of truth.
There are way too many sons of thunder in the house that will bring down the wrath of man upon themselves and the Church. Christ said we would escape the wrath of God, but while all the live godly shall suffer persecution there is wrath that we can cause not by the message of God but by the men who claim to be messengers of God but do not deliver it in the Spirit of God but of the spirit of man’s flesh. You can be bold in a meek spirit. Look at Christ. His toughest speeches were against the religious, not the sinners. Too many have it reversed and rather than people getting a message of reconciliation all they hear is anger, rancor and bitterness. Of what spirit are ye?
It is time to repent and maybe God will grant us mercy and souls before He comes. Judgment starts at the house of God and it is far past time that we should judge ourselves and have mercy on the sinners rather than being so hard on those who He came to seek and save, not destroy. Maranatha!