|Rambling and Random Thoughts About How Christ is Being Proclaimed|
|Ramblings - Is Christ Proclaimed
Recently I was returning from a trip to Florida to visit relatives. As we were driving along the interstate, I began to notice many different churches could be seen on the pleasant Sunday afternoon. I thought about how they were all different kinds of churches. There were Baptists, Church of Christ, Congregational Holiness, Methodist, Assembly of God and many independent and non-denominational churches. I thought many of them donít believe like I do. We probably have very different doctrinal stances on unimportant and maybe important beliefs. What I really thought of is that Christ is proclaimed and for that I am so thankful. I just got a good feeling thinking about it. And thinking about how many folks gathered in all those buildings to praise Jesus this morning. I am sure their ways of worship and their praise was varied and different. I thought as long as Jesus is worshiped and praised that is what matters most to me. I think that just may be what matters most to him.
It is not what matters most to some of my Christian brothers. I know we all think we are right in what we believe. I understand that. I believe I am right. This past summer my wife and I visited a church in our area to check out their Wednesday night Bible study. At the time our church was not having one and they were studying the book of Galatians which is one of my favorites. Galatians puts forth the message of the covenant of grace and the obsolescence of the covenant of the law which was given through Moses on Sinai. The pastor was teaching the part of the book where Paul was warning the believers there about the false teachers. It seems these false teachers were telling them they had to keep the laws to be saved. In others words, that Jesus just was not enough. It had to be Jesus plus the rules and regulations of the law. Paul is telling them that it is just Jesus. That he is enough. That in trying to keep the law they would be moving themselves from under grace. And that is not good. While the preacher is explaining what the Bible says on the subject of the false teachers who were trying to put them back under the law, he moved into another mode. He began to talk about other preachers who were different from him and his church and call them out as false teachers. None of those he attacked preach law but preach grace. The first one he mentioned he called "that smiling preacher in Texas." Everybody knew who he was talking about. He said he had already warned his people about that preacher once. That some were offended and some had even left. (I am thinking, "I am about to get up and leave, but I want to see how far you will go with this.") He went on to say that some of the people there have actually got that rascals books at home in their libraries. That they need to through them away. Then he mentioned a pastor in a nearby city. He said his problem was that he was a disciple of a certain TV evangelist. And that he had talked to him and it did not do any good. Most of the people there probably did not know who he was talking about, but my wife and I did. He ended the service by saying, "Some of us need to go home and clean out our libraries."
I am not trying to make any dogmatic statements or to judge anyone. These are just some rambling thoughts I had because I was puzzled by attitudes held by some pastors. One of my first thoughts was that "the smiling preacher in Texas" probably brings more people into Godís kingdom in a month and water baptizes them than "this preacher" will in his whole life. The other pastor in a nearby city pastors a church five times as large as the one we were visiting and it is rather common knowledge that in one year they water baptized over four-hundred-fifty(450) new converts into the Kingdom. Both churches are radically different from the one we were visiting. Both are not denominational churches. Both of them are charismatic. Many differences from his church. I would like to say I think he means well and is just trying to protect his members from wrong teaching, but I donít know if that is the case. Everyone knows when one preacher criticizes another it is often caused by "preacher envy" which is another way of saying jealously. I just donít really know.
I thought of another example from a couple of years ago. My son and his wife live eighty or so miles from us. They were searching for a church to call home. We went down and visited a church with them. It was the fastest growing church in our state and one of the fastest growing in the nation. The pastor wore jeans and sat on a stool while he preached that Sunday morning. The next week they visited a church nearer their house. As best I can remember this is what they told to me. The pastor began to recount stories about handing out fliers for their up coming Easter service. He said he came across one guy who was waxing his Corvette in his driveway. He said to that pastor, "You know what kind of church I want." The pastor recounted rather smugly how he figured the guy would tell him he wanted one where the pastor wore jeans and sat on a stool. But the man told him something different. Then the pastor and his team came across some members of a new church holding services in a local high school. They were also handing our fliers for their Easter service. He apparently exchanged fliers with them. That Sunday he said you know what the flier said on it, that if you wanted more information about their church you could visit their web site and the URL was on the flier. He then said, "Thatís crazy. What if the people canít get on the internet." My son and his wife were very offended by the attitude of the pastor of that church, as they certainly should have been. I told the story to a pastor friend of mine and I asked him what causes a pastor to say things like that. They serve no real purpose in Godís kingdom. He said it could just be insensitivity but most likely "preacher envy." Although that pastor already had a large church it was not as large as or growing as fast at the church where the preacher wore jeans and sat on a stool (which started 10 years earlier in a local high school). I wonder if attitudes like this behind our pulpits really reflect the heart of Jesus. I know one thing for sure, if the heart of Jesus does not come from behind the pulpit, it wonít be very prevalent in the church.
The apostle Paul reflected the heart of Jesus even when he was in prison. In the first chapter of the letter to the Philippians he wrote, " whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice." I realize if someone is preaching heresies, some false way of salvation or cheating people our of their money, people need to be warned. However, I would say rather adamantly, that preaching and teaching sound doctrine is by far the most effective way to combat false teaching. I just donít know where the line is drawn between criticizing and correcting false teaching. Truth preached with an anointing will win over untruth. Maybe just preaching strong truth will work most of the time. I remember in the fifth chapter of Acts when the religious folks were persecuting the new church, a Pharisee named Gamaliel told the council to be careful. He said if the movement was from man it would die, but if it was from God, they could find themselves opposing God. I think that is a scary thing to consider. To think you could be opposing God by opposing what God is doing through someone else.
There was a seventeenth-century Puritan minister named Richard Baxter. He once lamented, "Is it not enough that all the world is against us, but must we also be against one another?" To that thought I say, "Amen!"
I donít desire to make any strong statements. These are some things I thought about. What do you think?
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