Monthly Archives: January 2006
Lauren Winner provides a great insight in her blog today. As a pastor & teacher I wrestle with this in all my communication. Without losing the meaning of the Scripture we have to think through what we say to an increasingly post-Christian world. I’m not one that feels we need to toss out all the “off-beat” words in the Bible – like propitiation, but we do need to make certain that the words make sense to our audience – whether Christian or not. In fact, I’ve been noticing that some Christians don’t fully understand the terms we use either. And it seems that when we use words we don’t really understand, or turn them into cliches, it becomes harder to be truly authentic.
As one redeemed, uh, purchased, uh, bought, uh … saved; hmm. Anyway – let us keep our communication true.
Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel is somewhat refreshing in a day of church growth books mainly focused on programs. I mentioned Mark Dever before, and this is the book I hoped to read. Hope fulfilled today. Not a flashy book. Not a whole lot of new insights. Just some key reminders that it is the Gospel that matters. A few quotes:
“Our power is not in having small groups, or meeting the felt needs of our target audience, or using the right evangelism program, or having funny skits, or providing plenteous parking, or targeting our ministry to post-moderns. Our power is in our unique message — the Gospel” (p. 27).
“We should be cultivating among our congregations a deep concern over the fame of God’s name to extend to other parts of the globe throughout the preaching of His Gospel to all the nations and for the corporate testimony of our own local church to functions as a manifestation of God’s wisdom and power to the authorities that hold sway under his sovereignty in the spiritual real” (p. 201).
“We need to be teaching people that a biblical church is about much more than simply meeting our felt needs for purpose, significance, fellowship, and mutual understanding. It is about the Glory of God in the Gospel of Christ” (p. 201)
So, now we can create green pigs. Something tells me that while this is an oddity for today, it might be a much larger ethical concern in the near future. Then again, maybe we need pets that can do double duty as a nightlight.
How about Scripture Poker Chips? I used to think that the doggie t-shirts (“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord”), and “The Lord is my shepherd” pocket knifes were pushing the limits of Christian propriety in the name of making a buck. I’m not sure what to think of the Talking Bible Dolls!
Finally, there’s The Porpoise Driven Life — obviously tongue in cheek … I think? As Douglas Adams might say “So long, and thanks for all the fish“. Makes as much sense as some of the stuff we Christians seem to get distracted by.
Jesus taught using parables. Often. Sometimes they obscured truth from those who would not listen. Sometimes the point was clear. But something tells me that the selected listener did not hear even then. In at least one case, just in case his readers might miss Jesus’ point, Luke provides a clear statement of intent:
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14 ESV)
It is interesting that the one who ‘trusted in himself’ was a Pharisee – a religious man – one who had the reputation for being Godly. He had an external image that looked great that was well taken care of, but inside he was just as much a mess as the tax collector. Why do Christians so often play this “game” – pretending that they have everything together, even when they are before God himself! The truth will always become known.
Over the past months I’ve talked with a number of Christian leaders who struggle with this issue. The biggest problem we find is that when once you begin to pretend you also lose something – you have to deaden yourself to the truth of God’s wonderful grace. To admit we need Grace, like the Pharisee, is to admit we are really more like the tax collector.