It was only a week ago that a message preached by a prominent pastor aired on a major Christian network. After it aired, media hounds took to the web, the airwaves, and every available social network possible to discredit this preacher by focusing their assault through a 40 second sound bite. Since that time, I’ve had the opportunity to hear both the sound bite as well as the message in full context. What occurs to me is probably something that does not occur to many who have come against this particular preacher. This is so much like Jesus and Paul the apostle.
I know you’re probably wondering what I mean, so let me make it more plain. In the days that Jesus walked among men, he carried a message that was totally controversial to the message that was being espoused by that of the Pharisee. He created such an uproar among them that they violently assaulted him with accusations of not abiding by the Mosaic Law. In every instance, Jesus demonstrated more love and compassion through his word and deeds, than any of the Pharisee ever did through their practice and execution of the laws, which they by the way could not even maintain. Jesus did not oppose the law but demonstrated a higher law that abided within him. His presentation of the Kingdom changed lives and upset the status quo.
Likewise, Pau who was a raised as a Pharisee, lived a changed life and encountered many who challenged him. None were more vocal than those of Berea. However, these people did not assault him. Rather, they said, “Is what he is preaching in fact the truth? Is it gospel (See Acts 17)?” They eagerly examined what he said, only to come to a conclusion that what he preached was in fact truth.
My struggle today is not so much the things that people preach across the pulpit that may seem controversial. It’s instead, whether what is being preached is truth, and whether it’s being preached in love. Are we as the church living as the Pharisee, sitting in judgment over the messenger who comes as a representative of God, or are we living as the people of Berea, willing to dissect and analyze what has been presented, to determine if it be truth?
Truth stands on its own and need not be defended. Truth will at times offend. However, it should not be offensive. When Christ Jesus and Paul the apostle presented the gospel, there were many who took offense to what was said, but that was because it threatened them and their comfort zones, their power and authority that they had established. The people of Berea were people who were hungry and had a heart to have a relationship with God as had been preached to them. They wanted nothing to water down the truth that they had come to cherish.
If we are to be a Church that has a witness that speaks to a dying world, we cannot crucify our own for the sake of those who have not ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. Jesus at times devoted his time to those who had ears to hear, because his time was of the essence (See Matt 11:15 and Matt 13:9). Paul even said that he became all things to save some (See 1 Cor. 9:22). This meant that he directed his message to a specific audience and spoke in such a way that they could relate to it. He neither devalued that message, nor did he debase or lower himself or the integrity of the message in order to make a point. He always was one who was in the world, understanding the world and the people he wanted to reach, but never looking down upon them, but elevated them to a greater understanding; even as Christ before had.
What it all boils down to in this day is how we want the world to perceive us. Do we wish to present ourselves as Pharisaical hypocrites, who are like crabs in a barrel, willing to kill one another and sacrifice one another to save ourselves; or are we going to be as the people of Berea and treasure the gospel, and share its truth in love, so that the world might be saved.
QUESTION: Who are you willing to relate to?