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Friday, February 22, 2013

Wandering from Who We Should Be

1 Timothy 1:5-7 (ESV) 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

I don't like horror movies. I say this because I have watched a few and so I generally stay away from them. However, there is one element in each of the ones I have watched: There is a time when the person who is to be victimized feels perfectly safe. The audience is made aware that something ominous is lurking nearby by the music or by watching the horror slowly creep up on the unsuspecting person. The audience is lured into the fear that is unknown to this one who because she feels so safe goes about her business with complete ignorance that her life is about to be taken.

I am not saying that Christian life can be like a horror movie but I see many believers who are unaware that their actions are taking them to destruction. They even think they are doing what is right when they are walking completely away from their Lord. They slowly wander away from their Lord without recognizing what it is doing to them. Some of them become heretics who are fully confident that they are right but have totally missed the true meaning of the things they are teaching. They lead others away by their own clever words which pull their audiences into their own deception.

What causes this? It is a desire to be revered as one who teaches the Word without continuing to keep a pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith. I have seen many preachers and professors who because of their great intellects have constructed convincing arguments which pull others away from their own pure hearts, good consciences and sincere faith. They have much to say but none of it turns people back to faith. They are wordsmiths which entertain but have said very little if anything at all. They are like satan who challenged God's Word in the Garden.

Yet, they see themselves as the most spiritual of all people. They are frequenctly loved by those who listen to them. They have a following of disciples who wish they could gather such a following. They have such confidence and intellects few others will wish to challenge them.

Many of these people go into the professional ministry. They wish to be teachers of God's Word and so study it without godly discernment because they have not carefully watched their own hearts. Seventy percent of preachers admit that they do not read or study God's Word outside of their own preparations for sermons. Thus, they have messages for their congregations without listening to the messages that God has for them apart from their congregations. Their own hearts are suseptible to wandering. Their own faith becomes insincere for their lack of connection with their Lord causes them severe doubts. They continue to speak confidently but do not understand what they are saying. In fact, they may not even truly believe what they are saying.

But the root of this is where they are leading their congregations and who they continue to be. They no longer understand their charge is a love that issues from a pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith. Therefore, they do not hold onto it for themselves. The literal translation is that they "having missed the mark" have "turned aside" to "vain words."

Yet, there is no one to whom most preachers are held accountable. No one in their congregations asks them if they have prayed, been in God's Word or have taken the time to listen to God each day. The congregations measure attendance, the building and maintaining of structures, programs and how much money there is in the bank. The preacher is deemed successful if he can gather a crowd who gives so that the congregations feels secure and proud. Most of the people do not have a taste for the Word of God and do not notice that they receive very little of it. They love the stirring speech and hope that nothing ever changes that.

It is no wonder that 1,500 ministers leave their positions every month. Many of them are forced out by congregtions which do not recognize godliness. Many others leave because they have forgotten why they are doing what they do.

Last Friday my dad had quadruple bypass surgery. He felt chest pain for a few days before he relented and made the trip to the ER. The images taken of his heart revealed these blockages. My daughter who is an MD upon looking at them said that they had been there for some time. No one knew because there had not been any previous images taken. I wonder if there are people who are walking around with spiritual heart problems but don't know it because they have not examined their own hearts.

If you are in the ministry take a moment and examine your own heart. It is still pure? Do you have a good conscience? Can you be characterized by a sincere faith if a spiritual MRI could be done? Do you really love the Lord Jesus?

If you aren't would you take a moment to pray for those in the ministry? Pray that they will show their love for Jesus as they speak with others. Maybe you are close enough to one of them to share your prayers and write a note of encouragement.

But never stop with what you can do for others. Examine yourself. Do you have a pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith? Is your love for Jesus overflowing onto others?

1 comment:

Deb Willbefree said...

Man. I've been catching up on your posts by reading backwards. The post I just commented on was written just after this one, I think, and asked if our actions reflected who we wanted to be.

I deleted a couple sentences from hat comment in an attempt, failed I fear, at brevity. The opening verse and your initial comments caused me to sit up straight and reread.

The sentences I omitted from that last comment included a too long discussion on how my "do" reflected my "be." I had siad that I carefully read the Word, attempting to get an accurate meaning, because I wanted to make sure that I handled the Word correctly when I gave a message.

I am not seminary-trained. My big fear is that in an effort to deliver a message inspired by God, I would mishandle the Word of God.

Although some may say that an "inspired" message cannot mishandle scripture, I know that it can. I have heard it done. Often. so easy to get self and human wisdom tangled up in what started as a God thhng and then misuse scripture to prove it.

Anyway.

The Scripture from 1 Timothy really caught my heart. I'm going to have to meditate and seek God on that. My motivation. I need to look at that. Is it still love-driven and as pure as it once was or have I let myself drift into being motivated by a different payoff...

This is timely, as your posts often are, and probably why it has struck me so. My pastor just asked me if I would take the pulpit on a Sunday morning and teach about marriage.

I said that I would not.

First, I am certainly not qualified to teach on marriage. I could preach on it, but that is an entirely different thing. But, more than that, I do not (Except under rare circumstances like Mother's Day)preach to mixed congregations. I am called to women's ministry. (I know that is a controversial thing. And I don't care if there are female pastors. I'm just uncomfortable with it.)

At any rate, my pastor didn't agree with my reasons for refusal and asked me to pray about it. He said I have a gift for speaking and I shouldn't waste it.

What he doesn't realize is that it really IS a gift. I am not a natural born public speaker. Far from it. If God gives me the message, He shows up and makes it happen. If I move outside His will, it would be...well, I'd be one of those speakers that the audience feels sorry for. Worse, no move of the Holy Spirit would occur.

But even so, as directed, I've been thinking about it and praying about it and looking at my motivation to agree or refuse.

Your words about the preachers who have wandered off also caught my attention. You see, despite the sloppy writing here, I am a wordsmith. I write. I've been paid to write. My email begins with the words "areadysriter" (Now I want to go back an edit this. chuckle.) And the pastor's request was flattering...

Ahh. Long enough. I'm going t go read Timothy now.

Deb