Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Permission for Un-Cautious Speech?

Leadership is a precarious position. We should pray hard for men and women who have been given a huge field of influence. Whatever they say "can and will be used against them" in the world-wide court of law. There are many current examples, just check out the current blogosphere. Power tends to grant permission for un-cautious speech. And power unchecked in the Church often fosters a gospel that holds the unbelieving world accountable to act like Christ, without knowing the presence of Christ. That is a false gospel. 


I know some of these church leaders. I respect them for their calling and their influence. I love these leaders in Christ. And as a pastor I understand their tension, their temptations, their pressure and the expectations their responsibilities place upon them. Pray! Many of them are excellent communicators. Some of them are skilled culturalists and most of them have a natural gift of leadership. But I believe we should always take issue with anyone who tries to sell a gospel that appears dangerously close to a political and moral agenda. 

This is not to criticize one pastor or another, there is enough disunity, but rather to clarify the Gospel and the climate many leaders are unwittingly (hopefully) building for themselves. While the Gospel of Jesus Christ does have clear ramifications for life change under His management -- the true Gospel IS “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15). It is NOT the “change-‘em-on-the-outside-and-the-inside-will-soon-follow” version that some pastors seem bent on peddling to their masses. Preaching a moral or socio-cultural agenda rather than Christ is a dangerous step toward writing our own gospel. Certainly there are strong and clear, moral imperatives in the Gospels and in Paul's writings. Even Old Testament prophets foretold that God would one day give us new hearts and write His Name upon them. There can be no life change without a heart change. Preach anything else and we introduce yet another cause for the unbelieving world to hate the Church for the wrong reason.  


I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:6-9)


The Church must repent for making our mission a social, political, and even moral one. Without "Christ in [them] the hope of Glory," the people He gave His life to forgive and reconcile have no hope to successfully follow any of our moral code, our social gospel, or our 3-step cultural clean-up plan. This is not the Gospel Jesus preached nor called people to receive. 


Jesus did not give His life to affect a social and political agenda. Even His early disciples had false expectations in this area. Many of us still want Him to come and set up His kingdom on our planet. And we're going to help Him out by condemning the sinners He came to save! We're going to help him by "baptizing" those heathens in our version of morality, and pronounce them justified if they adopt our version of the Bible’s family plan. But Jesus' kingdom is not of this world! It is as if we keep telling Him He's got it wrong. "Oh, Lord, are You sure? Look at all the earthly press we could get for You! You could maximize Your potential and minimize conflict if You would just set up government here!" Maybe we're more honest if we just admit that we want a following for ourselves. When this is our purpose, we do not know the God-Man. We have no idea of His power and authority. He doesn't need our opinion to run His universe. He doesn't need us to assist Him in building a sin-free society. Every time we've tried, we got it way wrong. Jesus hasn't called us to preach anything other than His message. We've preached our own for far too long.  


To be sure, Jesus calls us to help alleviate some of the pain and suffering in our world when and where we can, but again, He did not give His life for a more clean and fresh world. He did not give His life for a moral agenda. He did not give His life to clean up Geek City by pushing the gospel of "change the outside first and the inside will follow." He gave His life to save sinners who repent! When the Church re-engineers the gospel, she not only fails at her mission, but also becomes quickly irrelevant and impotent. We have nothing to say if we are not preaching Christ! And when we preach lifestyle first, many will never hear the real Jesus.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Preach it Brother!