Once upon a time, I was extremely young, dumb and ignorant. Oh, wait a minute, that would describe exactly how I am right now. When one stops to consider the timelessness of God along with the wisdom and knowledge that He possesses, we don’t even compare. The reason I bring this up is that I have been pondering several things that I have read lately along with a conversation I had with a local pastor about 5 years ago.
The first article I want to touch can be found here and deals with how the modern evangelical church has allowed worldliness to creep in and shape and define the modern church. The second article is one by James Boice entitled The New Pragmatism which talks about how, over the course of 30 years, the worlds ways and means have crept into the church and are influencing it, and not for the better I might add. The conversation I had was with the senior Pastor of the church I attended. I had asked for an opportunity to sit down and talk with him because I was beginning to see some major discrepancies between what I was reading in my Bible and what I was hearing preached. The conversation was very cordial until I started talking about how black and white the Scriptures were beginning to appear to me. We were talking about theology and individual Christian growth and I made the following statement to him, “It would appear to me, after spending the last few months digging into the Word of God like I never have before, that the Word, when preached only has two outcomes. It will either cause a softening or a hardening of the heart. If that is the case, it would then appear to me that the Word needs to be preached in it’s fullness and God will cause the church to grow (by which I meant growth in a spiritual sense).”
The room was silent for about 5 seconds, and then I literally feared for my well being. The Pastor, who happened to be sitting behind his desk, jumped to his feet, his face became extremely red and contorted, and he said in a fairly loud voice, “I know exactly what I am doing here, I know how to grow this church, I don’t need you to tell me how to preach or what to preach. I will preach what I want to reach the people and this church will grow.”
I admit that I almost burst into tears when this happened, but not for the reason you might expect. The overwhelming sadness that flooded my soul was due to the fact that God was not even in this pastors mind at this time. This outburst triggered memories of months of announcements of programs that came and went in this church to cause it to grow. One month an announcement would be made that new classes/programs were going to be instituted to help people grow deeper in Christ (which I am all for), and then 2 months later you would find that that class/program was no longer offered, only to have another announcement telling of a different approach. I was too ignorant to realize that this was worldly pragmatism at it’s finest, and it was in the church.
Today, 5 years later, I am even more firmly convinced that The Word of God, rightly preached, is what this world needs. It will not be received by all. Matter of fact, it will offend many because of the depraved sinfulness of the stony human heart. But, those “he chose in him before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph 1:4), will hear the Word of God; it will destroy the heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh (Eze 36:26), and salvation will come, renewing lives. So, if you call on the name of Christ, put aside pragmatic worldliness and put on Christ. It is foolishness to this world, but it is the wisdom of God.