Who's relevant?

A friend told me of a pastor he knew who told him that his church told him they didn't want teaching, they wanted “application.” This isn't any new thing, but there seems to be a lack of “give and take” these days that says, “Give me what I want or else.” This led my thinking down some “bunny trails” that I am going to share with you all.

 

First, there are thousands of people in countries around the world giving their lives to Jesus Christ; many of them in places where it is illegal to be a Christian. One of the directors of “Through the Bible” said that in Mongolia until recent years there were less than 10 known believers in that country, but that now there are thousands being saved and using the late J. Vernon McGee's material to study the Bible. This is just one example of what is going on worldwide, and what is interesting is that the vast majority of people are becoming believers through radio and the internet. We listen to a conservative Christian radio station that is using the technology to broadcast the good news about God's love. Every day they read the testimonies of new believers from all over the world, including the Middle East.

Second, when you consider countries that have been open to the Gospel of Jesus Christ for hundreds of years, why do many of them seem to be closing to it? The persecution is more subtle than in closed countries, but it is growing. There can be many reasons, but in my pondering I have come to a conclusion that is very sobering. I just put it out there for consideration that God is no longer relevant in our culture and it has like poisonous gas seeped into our churches. I am going out on a limb, but I believe that in many of our churches the Living God is no longer relevant. We have reduced God to a “concept,” that fits our lifestyle and this concept has become real to us....but it is not God at all, it is our concept of God, and the “concept” has become more relevant and is easier on our worship culture (more entertaining) than God Himself! Would God consider this idolatry? I think He probably does.

Third, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Jesus used everyday examples in applying the truth when He was teaching, but central to it all was instructing His listeners in the truth about God...who He was, and what He wanted from His creatures. As a young pastor I learned, slowly I admit, that people respond best to preaching and teaching that follows Christ's pattern. You can learn from a sound exposition of God's Word even when it may seem hard to follow, but when speakers give you a text but spend the rest of their time illustrating that text with stories, personal or otherwise, they may entertain the people with their “applications,” but they are shortchanging them spiritually.

Four, there is no substitute for the teaching of the Word of God. We have forgotten that it is the Living God, Creator of us who is speaking to us! A good pastor or teacher who teaches the truth regardless of the prevailing trends is a treasure to his people! But I should read the Word of God for myself and God, by His Spirit will teach me how to apply it in my life IF my desire is sincere. Don't misunderstand me; hearing personal applications of what God has done in someone's life inspires me, and we can all do with that kind of inspiration at times. My favorite reading is biographies of people I admire, but what CHANGES me is when I take the Word of God and decide to apply it to my life. We have forgotten that:


“THE WORD OF GOD IS LIVING AND POWERFUL, AND SHARPER THAN ANY TWO-EDGED SWORD, PIERCING EVEN TO THE DIVISION OF SOUL AND SPIRIT, AND OF JOINT AND MARROW, AND IS A DISCERNER OF THE THOUGHTS AND INTENTS OF THE HEART. AND THERE IS NO CREATURE HIDDEN FROM HIS SIGHT, BUT ALL THINGS ARE NAKED AND OPEN TO THE EYES OF HIM TO WHOM WE MUST GIVE ACCOUNT.” (Heb.4:12)

Wow!! Maybe we should start a conversation in our churches as to how relevant we are to God these days.

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