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Preach or Get Preached To!

11 Oct

I don’t think we will come to any consensus (as to what is sin and what isn’t) as we use different criteria for a moral compass.  I will choose to use the continuing progression of human knowledge and experience and you are free to use your Bronze age book.”

This was my dismissal from a lively conversation about love, judgment, and sin.  I had unintentionally but effectively flustered this young man with my relentless response with the Word of God to all his rebuttals.  His frustration heightened at my refusal to give up and accept his point of view to which he simply resorted to calling me narrow-minded and judgmental and sent the above message to communicate “We are done!”

This is a stark reality in America today – people using whatever moral compass they choose by which to decide what they consider sin or not, or what is right or wrong. If a Christian stands firmly on truth from the Bible, they will most likely be ridiculed, mocked, and dismissed much as this young man did when I wouldn’t succumb to his way of thinking.  Praise the Lord we get to share the Gospel message of Jesus Christ!

At times like these I am reminded of 2 Timothy 4:2-5 “Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.  But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

I’m not suggesting we should ever go out and purposely stir up trouble, getting into doctrinal debates for the sake of argument, but neither should we fear speaking truth when confronted with falsehood.  We have the best news in the world to share so we must be ready to preach the word lest the words preached TO us convince us of something other than the Gospel. People don’t like the word “preach” believing that when Christians share truth they are being “preachy”.  But preaching isn’t preachy – it is simply a public proclamation of the Gospel and any matters pertaining to it.

It is essential to be ready and prepared to preach the word!  We cannot expect to convince, rebuke, exhort, or teach anyone anything unless we are ready ourselves.  We do this through spending time in the secret place with Father God, knowing His will, studying His Word, being convinced of His truth through the power of Holy Spirit, and selling out to Jesus alone.  When we ready ourselves, we will patiently and faithfully be steadfast in bringing light where there is darkness, truth where there is falsehood, order where there is disorder, and godly morality where there is wickedness.

But no matter how hard we try we cannot force people to hear truth!  This is an unfortunate reality of life!  Yet, even knowing this, we are still not released from being watchful and willing to endure insults as we fulfill our calling to preach the word at all times.  “The time” spoken of in 2 Timothy has already come when sound doctrine is unwelcome, when people hear what they want, find teachers and belief systems to feed their own desires, and let human knowledge and experience formulate a fictional reality by which they establish their own moral compass. In other words, people make up whatever they want to appease themselves, creating philosophies that fit their lifestyles.  However, if they were to think them through they make little to no sense because there is no consistency or moral baseline from which to work.

For example, during the conversation I had with the young man, he repeatedly used my supposed bronze-age book to try to get me to believe fables he made up about Jesus and judgment. Though he claimed to use human knowledge and experience as his criteria for formulating a moral compass, he used the Bible when it was convenient, albeit inaccurate and assumptive!

Jesus didn’t mention judgment in John 8:7, he simply states that those without sin shall cast the first stone.  Meaning those with sin should not comment on the sins of others.  Christ kept company with ‘sinful’ people, from killers to prostitutes who came from many backgrounds without commenting on their sins.  If Christians are to emulate Christ than they should act in a Christ-like manner, modeling moral behavior, not judge in a way like the Pharisees did.”

A cursory reading of this might “sound” good but his fabricated conclusions are distorted and twisted. Though he confidently articulated his opinions as fact, appearing extremely knowledgeable, he can only fool Christians who are not well-versed in the Word, or who do not use the Bible as their only source of truth! The truth is he has itching ears and heaped up progressive human knowledge and experience to formulate falsehoods by which he lives.  The inconsistencies are blaring, yet they go unnoticed unless we know God’s Word. People can sound intelligent and sure of themselves based on nothing more than opinion or perception, which usually intimidates and effectively silences Christians who are not ready and watchful to preach the word of truth.

We should never say things about the Word that it doesn’t say about itself!  This man said Jesus kept company with sinful people from killers to prostitutes who came from many backgrounds without ever commenting on their sins. That is untrue!  Keeping company infers hanging out with people on a regular basis and though Jesus ministered to all people, He “hung out” with His Father in prayer and with His followers.  It is insane to say the Savior of the world simply ignored or refused to “comment” on the sins of the people.  He lived, suffered, and died to take away sin not ignore it!  Jesus always dealt with sin because He loved people!  A thorough reading of the entire account reveals Jesus did comment on sin, AND even told the woman to stop sinning!  Love tells the truth!  Sin is better out than in!  Better confronted than avoided!  Better confessed than denied!  Better repented of than rejoiced over!  Better forgiven than tolerated!

Every time someone met Jesus, conviction hit!! Being in the presence of holiness puts us face to face with a choice – deal with sin or excuse it, rejecting forgiveness through lack of confession or repentance. Meeting Jesus meant transformation and new life. It should be the same when people meet Christians today! We are holy because He is holy.  That does not make us sin-free or holy because of our own goodness, but we give God glory for sanctifying us, setting us apart, separating us from evil, making us holy because of His holiness.  When people meet Christians who live the holy, sanctified (set-apart, separate) life their consciences will be seared and they too will face the choice – Deal with sin or reject the Gospel message.

Problems come when we water down the Gospel message, believing people will accept it more readily if we buddy up to them. We figure if we “hang out” with people who make a practice of sinning, never confronting or commenting on it, they will just “stop” sinning at some point for some random reason.  It is easy to see how this “evangelism” technique has taken root if we believe Jesus “hung out” with sinners without ever mentioning or commenting on sin.

However it is absurd to say Jesus “kept company” with murderers without ever addressing the wrongness of their actions.  Would you hang out with a killer without ever mentioning your knowledge of their “hobby”, settling for conversation about the weather, politics, or the last movie you saw? Or would you just hang out with a woman actively selling her body for money without ever revealing her worth as a woman of God, making her more valuable than any money she could ever earn?  Do we care so little for people that we would keep company with them knowing they are spiritually dying, but deciding it is none of our business so we refuse to comment about sin?

Though it is true Christians should not be pharisaical by saying one thing, and doing another, the man’s explanation of what it means to emulate Christ falls far short. We are followers of Christ, meaning we follow through and do all that Jesus says and does. It is not simply about living a moral life while letting everyone else go to hell.  We are to share the full Gospel message, go and make disciples, baptize and teach them His ways.  That would include talking about sin at some point.  Talking about sin and judgment is not preachy, is not a bad thing, is not about passing judgment! It is in fact part of life, and most definitely part of our life in Christ!

What is your moral compass?

In the next blog I will go over the section of Scripture to which the man alluded in John 8! It isn’t about what everyone thinks!

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2 responses to “Preach or Get Preached To!

  1. Mark Marxhausen

    October 12, 2011 at 9:09 am

    “I was born to fight devils and factions. It is my business to remove obstructions, to cut down thorns, to fill up quagmires, and to open and make straight paths. But if I must have some failing let me rather speak the truth with too great severity than once to act the hypocrite and conceal the truth.” Martin Luther

     
    • Julie Ann Marxhausen

      November 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      I love Martin Luther’s quote Mark – thanks for reminding me!

       

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