I’ve always been one who manages to verbally articulate what everyone else around me is thinking, while they remain socially tactful enough not to. Gotten myself in trouble a time or two…just for being honest when someone asks what’s on my mind. Well, I’ve reached the point where I no longer give an airborne copulation what anyone thinks. Certain things just need to be said.
We, as Christians, share a large part of the blame for the heap of putrid caca this country has turned into. The “go along to get along” mentality isn’t just reserved for the spineless a-holes in Congress. We’ve been told to simply pray for our leaders and God will sort everything out eventually. We’ve been told by equally spineless preachers that church is no place for politics. This brings me to the issue at hand. I want to look at some of the specific points in this bill of goods we’ve been sold over our church’s pulpits.
1. God will always sort it out…He’s bigger and it’s His responsibility.
While this is absolutely true in the bigger scheme of the universe, it in no way exonerates us from any responsibility. There is a reason we are here.
I’ve written in a previous column about the significance of Matthew 5:13, when Christ says “You are the salt of the earth.” Basically, in an age before refrigeration, salt was used as a preservative. . It stopped the rot. It kept food whole and usable.
I wondered how this worked and with just a small bit of research, learned that salt is a preservative because it draws out moisture, which is the medium in which bacteria thrives. Something unseen by the naked eye, when left unchecked, eventually gets out of control and causes rot.
There’s more to Matthew 5:13, though: “…if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by man.” In other words, if salt is not stopping rot, it’s useless.
These words of Jesus were directed at all believers, and not to any specific group. All of us share in the responsibility to stop the rot. but we’ve too often allowed our salt, our power, to lose its ability. The decay starts before we see it, and by the time it turns to rot, a lot of what we could have preserved is gone.
2. God wants good Christians to be good followers.
We’ve all heard time and time again that we’re like sheep, with no ability to think for ourselves. The analogy has even crept into the pop culture lexicon with the phrase “sheeple”. If you don’t know what that means, take a good look at a horde of teenagers wandering aimlessly while looking at their cell phones.
But I digress. We got this way because the true nature of sheep is rarely, if ever, discussed. We’re told that just like Isaiah 53:6, “We all like sheep, have gone astray”, which is true, but know this…being compared to sheep is not a complement. Sheep have virtually no will of their own, and are the ultimate herd animal. Outside of that, they exist only for mutton and sweaters.
Now, couple that Isaiah scripture with Christ’s words in John 10:11: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the his sheep.” And again in verse 14: “I am the good shepherd, I know my sheep and they know me.”
Once again, no issue taken here with what any of these scriptures say. Yes, we are like sheep; yes, we are aimless; and yes, Christ is our shepherd. He is the shepherd who will not lead us into any harm. We know that.
The downside, though (and yes, there is a downside here…), is that we go out of our way to buy into the sheep mentality in the first place. We’re more content to be part of the herd, go with the flow, not think for ourselves.
Don’t think certain pastors and preachers don’t know how to exploit the sheep mentality? Can you say televangelists? Can you say Jim Jones Kool-Aid drinkers? Can you say PTL scandal? These types of things happen because we have allowed ourselves to be conditioned into not thinking for ourselves. So, it’s wrong to question any preacher of the gospel? Really?
Consider 2nd Timothy 4:3 : “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” Contrast this with Paul’s words in Philippians (2:12): “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Paul put the responsibility for our spiritual lives squarely on our own shoulders. It’s apparent that the early church also dealt with the problem of believers blindly wanting to follow whatever convenient, easy doctrine and/or teacher came along, and not take responsibility for anything either in their personal lives or in society at large. Amazing how some things don’t change over time.
At this point, I’d like to say that I by no means want to give the impression that I have it all together. I’m a sinner saved by grace. I’m very thankful for a benevolent, forgiving God. Through the years, though, I’ve attended a lot of different churches–Methodist, Assembly of God, Baptist and more than one independent full gospel church. This has led me to develop my own three point evaluation of any church. And the three points
1. Are Biblical truths at the center of all teaching?
2. Can I ask questions of the pastorate and the lay leaders?
3. What kind of a car does the pastor drive? (Okay, I know this one might sound a bit ridiculous, but if the pastor is driving a vehicle that costs as much as a starter home while he’s continually asking for money, that’s a clear indication of something amiss. People manifest their attitude about money in the things that they buy.)
The next two points of this article will be: (3.) God wants you to be a doormat, and (4.) God does not want politics in church.