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Musings, but Not Amusing

I’m not sure how many of you get the Baptist Banner (www.baptistbanner.org) mailed to you each month, but I believe it is an excellent resource for Virginia Baptists. I was recently reading through my copy of the August edition when I came across this excellent article, on standing firm in the faith. I hope that you are as blessed by it as I was…

Pastor Mark

Musings but Not Amusing

by T. C. Pinckney, editor, The Baptist Banner                 Vol. XXVI, No. 7, August 2013

For most of us life is busy. Our days are so packed with work, routine tasks, phone calls, and emails, that we seldom take time to stop and ask ourselves how things look in the long term. We often are so involved with the present that we fail to seriously consider and plan for the future. This is true in our personal lives and also in our faith.

 Likewise, if the church building is in good repair, the choir sings nicely, the sermon is not too long, and everyone is pleasant, we assume that this is what “church” should be like. And so, we tend not to look behind such surface appearances to search out lasting trends. But who would set out to drive from Richmond to San Francisco without a roadmap to help avoid wrong turns? So let’s look at some of the things going on among Southern Baptists and ask ourselves their long range impact.

  Feel-Good

In many, possibly most, of our churches today there is a strong tendency to try to make everyone feel comfortable. Now certainly discomfort is not in and of itself a goal. But on the other hand, coming to Christ depends on change, on growing beyond the natural man and becoming a servant and witness for Jesus. And change is always uncomfortable in some degree.

 Why do so many pastors never preach against abortion, homosexuality, alcohol, gambling, raunchy movies and TV shows, suggestive women’s clothing, bad language? Certainly one reason is they are afraid members will be upset if the pastor preaches against things they enjoy. Why, they might even change churches! And that would hurt the budget and make our church smaller!

 Don’t Offend

Closely related to feel-good is the desire not to offend anyone, not to make him mad. The assumption is that pastors, Sunday School teachers, and the entire church should be loving and accepting, never judgmental. We don’t want anyone to be offended by our beliefs. Everyone should feel equally welcome and accepted.

 Why? Certainly Jesus did not hesitate to offend those who used wrong standards to judge others or decide their own actions. Clearly, we are afraid someone may get mad with us. I am supposed to be nice, understanding, accepting of everyone.

 There is a grain of truth in such reasoning. Christians are not supposed to be unnecessarily offensive. We are to be considerate. But when it comes to teaching and representing God’s truth, we are definitely not to compromise His Word just to make someone feel good or to keep him from getting mad at me. My reputation is of no consequence in the long term; Christ’s truth is everything.

 Grow the Church

Understandably most churches want to grow or at least not decline. And pastors have an important personal interest in maintaining membership numbers. After all, if membership steadily declines, the church budget will decrease and so will the pastor’s salary.

 Second, membership growth is a common measure of pastoral success. It feeds his ego as well as the budget. Indeed, church growth is gratifying to all the members. But how many churches really examine members’ true commitment to Jesus? Various studies assert that large percentages of churchgoers are mere social Christians … attending church just because it’s the thing to do. (Note: A good online place to read more on Christians’ and others’ attitudes is Barna Group.)

 Now, feeling good, not offending others, and growing the church are fine in and of themselves. Certainly we should not seek to feel bad, offend others just to offend, or shrink our church, However, Jesus commanded far different goals.

 He tells us to expect others to be offended by our faith in Christ. Jesus said, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 10:22) And again, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)

 Everyone needs to be confronted at some point, many people often. We need to stand firmly and not compromise God’s Word. When we see someone opposing Jesus, we need to confront that person … gently, kindly, lovingly, but firmly, never watering down Jesus’ commands. Strong, consistent commitment to Jesus can be costly. You may be estranged from a friend or family member. You might lose your job. Others may mock you or even assault you physically. But carefully note that such hardships are temporal, limited by time, confined to this earthly life.

 In contrast, those who are welcomed to heaven with “Well done, good and faithful servant” will literally spend eternity blessed by God’s glorious presence and the wonderful responsibilities He gives us.

  The Lesson

Do not be dissuaded by men’s words or pressures. Stand firm in the faith. Follow God’s directions, not men’s lies. Do not ignore or dilute God’s commands. Regardless of what the media, some politicians, and many professors say, abortion is murder, homosexuality is an abomination to God, and we are to witness consistently to others. Work to make your church a true house of God.




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