I’m just going to go for this. It may seem that I am trying to antagonize people, I’m not, I’m really not. But on the other hand, I’m really trying to push people to really look at their relationship in Christ and the church, if any, that is supposed to be discipling you in a real relationship with Christ.
I am sure that you are all smart enough to realize that you need to trust, rely on and get the right information from the people you hire to do the job, whatever job they do. Oh yeah, I think we all know the type of person who can surround themselves with “yes-people”, we also knows what happens in most of those situations, hmmm let’s see Ken Lay of Enron and Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco jump immediately into my head. I’m sure we all know it wouldn’t take long to come up with a long list. We know that most of the time those kind of people ride the vessel down to disaster. You expect your lawyer, accountant, CIO, to give you the most prudent advice, to be successful, but to also trust that their practice is in keeping with real doctrine and teaching. Every profession has doctrine and teaching, however we also know that a lot people kind of make it up as they go along, it’s the same in “churches”.
It occurs to me that you should also have that kind of faith and trust in your pastor. It’s always been a mystery to me why people will
insiston the most expert direction in other parts of their life, but when it comes to your eternal soul, uncritically turn to clergy who they know will tell them what they want to hear, as if church only functions to make them feel good. There are times when it is entirely appropriate to comfort, it’s always appropriate to give the hope of Christ as Savior. But as Paul teaches Timothy: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 3: 4:1-5)
Timothy is a student of Paul’s, being trained for ministry, what Paul is teaching Timothy, well, we are there. We’ve been there for a long time and I will readily admit, the church has been its own worst enemy, clergy are all too often more concerned with telling people what they want to hear, taking the path of least resistance, that too often people see that as the way church is supposed to be, and it’s been happening for decades, probably at least since the 1950s.
Ya, I’ve probably said this ad nauseum but if you went to your doctor do you want him/her to tell you the truth, or pat you on the head and send you away with “don’t you worry about that cancer”. We all have a cancer, it’s called sin. It eats your soul up just like cancer eats your body. It’s the clergy’s job to tell you this and not let you die in your cancerous state, smiling and comfortable the whole way down. Seriously, you run into a pastor who, figuratively speaking, pats you on the head and tells you to your face, ‘don’t you worry about that sin thing, that’s so old-fashioned”, I suggest you run not walk and find someone who will help you deal with reality. Anyone who has the slightest clue knows full well that we all have sin issues.
Let’s be honest, you work in the world, you know when you have to confront reality in your work. Isn’t it time to deal with the reality of that vacuum in your soul? You know the reality of your sin, the reality of Christ dying for you, the reality of Him controlling your life and not you. But you keep putting it off, avoiding it. Your spouse, your children? And ya for guys, you know it’s on you. You don’t get your life together, so you give the rest of the family, let’s use the political phrase, “plausible deniability”. Yea, cute, but are you living up to your responsibility as a husband and father?
Yea, it is the church (that is the wrong churches that are out there) and many are not providing the teaching and guidance it should. But you’re the one who is leaving your critical thinking at the door, you’re buying into it and even, uncritically, precipitating it. You are uncritically accepting what you get and not looking critically at what is being taught and practiced. Do you run your business that way? Why on earth would you trust your eternal soul to someone who won’t sit down with you, look hard at your life, get you to think critically and eternally? Instead, you trust someone who just smiles, tells you what you want to hear and sends you on your way. Does that make sense?
It does kind of amaze me you get these smart/tough business types: “I want the straight story from everyone. I want to know how it is!” But they then expect their pastor to give them some little puff-piece as if the Christian thing really isn’t true, but “I’m paying for someone to magically make it true” (i.e. the pastor is supposed to work out everything for me. Yeah, right?) Huh, really? I guess your world is reality and church just there to throw in your money and you get what you want. If that’s what you really think, I would take a really hard look at your life as a whole. Salvation is in Christ, Christ established His church, Matthew 16:18, in His church is baptism, His Body and Blood, others to disciple you, and those for you to disciple. In His church is the Word of salvation through His Word in the Bible, and His preached Word through His Ministers. It’s His way, it’s not throw in your money and get what you want. It’s to learn to get your life in line with your Savior, being guided by the Holy Spirit, that’s reality! Do yourself a favor and get to First St Johns, sit in a pew and listen (promise you don’t have to talk to anyone) and I don’t care if you throw in a dollar or five hundred. If you feel I’ve really wasted your time after a couple of months, I will happily pay you your $8 back.
Business people love to tell you how hard core they are and how serious they are “Just the facts mam”, market share, ROI, EPS, my personal favorite EBITDA, analyzed financial statements for twenty years, can throw around all the jargon you can imagine. Hey that is important and I liked the challenge of the corporate world. But the ultimate reality isn’t production, cycles, financials, .WSO/DSO, market share, it is your eternal soul. Let’s start dealing with the ultimate reality and live your life in that reality.
First St Johns is at 140 W King St in York, Pa. Worship is at 10:30, before that we have our “Coffee Break Bible Study”, Wednesdays at 10am at the corner of W King and Beaver Sts. So come on down, see what you’re missing in your life, in your family’s life, OK, I’ll buy you coffee! May God richly bless you.