Saturday, May 28, 2011

Making a Statement:

Sorry for the long delay between posts.  I've been doing a lot of reading and study lately, because next week I have the opportunity to sit down with some pastor/elders in the association of churches I'm involved with.  And this isn't just a normal, friendly discussion.  This is a test for me to become ordained in the I'm doing my very best to not just read the bible, but to know it well and know where to turn for certain topics.

Due to my studies I have made some tough decisions over the past month.  I haven't posted on the blog.  I deactivated my facebook account.  In short, I've made a lot of changes about how I spend my time and paying very close attention to decisions I make.  And during this time I've come to realize that I can easily fall into the trap of wanting to make a personal statement, instead of simply living the life that God has called me to live.

My observations have led me to conclude that one of the most difficult things about being a pastor (or any Christian, for that matter) is the internal desire to want to make a statement, instead of just teaching/living what the Bible says.  It's very easy to look at the Bible and think, "I just need to find a scripture passage that will back up [blank] thought of mine.  Even in my own life I've noticed that when preparing a message or small group discussion it's very easy for me to have thoughts on what "I" want to communicate and looking for scripture passages that back up my thoughts.   

But this isn't what we're supposed to do.  Scripture wasn't given to us so that we can back up our own thoughts, statements and feelings (and history demonstrates that there has been great evil done by others who have done this).  Instead, scripture was given to teach us about God, His attributes, and the understanding of redemption.  That He is love, and that He is just.  That He loves people, but absolutely hates the sin in our lives.  In fact, Paul tells us in Romans how important the gospel message is, and then spends nearly 2 chapters early on focusing on the wrath of God and how none of us are righteous.  This is never fun to read.  Neither is Luke 18:9-14.

But I'm continually discovering that the more I submit myself and place myself under the authority of scripture, the more I'm discovering God's will for my own life.  That scripture was given to us for very specific purposes.  To read it.  To study the culture and the people to whom each book was written.  To pray about what I've read, knowing that the Holy Spirit will guide me to better understand even the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:10).

My observations have led me to believe there are a lot of people in the world who don't read the Bible in this way.  In fact, I've read passages to "Christians" in my office and had them look me in the eye and say, "I just don't agree with that."  It's not me they're disagreeing with, it's God's word.  There are statements in the Bible that many just don't agree with.  Statements or truths about God that rub them the wrong way.  And instead of dying to their prideful desires, they dismiss those passages and simply go on their own way...and may one day look for a different passage that will, to them, back up their original thought.

Have you experienced similar observations?  Do you see Christians (perhaps even other churches) turning to passages in order to make a personal statement, or do most people genuinely place themselves under the authority of scripture, allowing God to make His own statement?


  1. I see a couple of problems with placing oneself under the authority of scripture. First is intrepretation. Second is the pick and choose method of the OT for what to follow and what not to follow.

    I think these two areas cause more confusion for people than anyone lets on. So people tend to pick and choose scriptures to proof-text their lives.

    For me, I would be happy if people who claim adherence to Jesus would at least submit to his teachings. Luke 17:7-10

    “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

    - mike

  2. Once again, it comes down to whether or not the Bible is "God's word". With my current belief that it is God's Word, my thoughts are:

    If the Holy Spirit lives within a professed believer (John 14), and the HS searches out the deep things of God (1 Cor 2:10), and one truly looks upon the HS for guidance in all things (Rom 8 and Gal 5), it's my belief that God/HS will lead and guide them to the correct understanding of His will (i.e. God will sanctify them throughout their lives) Rom 15:16.

    This understanding doesn't lead me to judge others and/or assume they don't submit to Jesus' teachings, but to encourage them and lead them to a better understanding of God's word so that the Holy Spirit can work in their own life (John 16:8-11). As the HS does this, they will, inevitably, adhere to Jesus' teaching (John 14:20-21). And if I don't believe they do adhere to His teaching, it's not my place to judge them for it (though depending upon the situation, some type of discipline may be necessary - 1 Cor 5), the role of judge belongs to God alone(Rom 2:1; Ps 9:8; Rev 20).

    Pretty scripture heavy, I know. But your comment seems to say it's your belief that most who claim adherence to Jesus don't submit to his teachings). And I think it's dangerous to determine who is "righteous" and who is not...and we may all be surprised by who walks away justified before God (Luke 18:9-14).

  3. No judgement in my comment, just a hope, though I did word it a bit awkwardly, I admit.

    - mike