Monday, November 22, 2010

What Would You Change?

My brother, who has endured some terrible hardships in his life, who is aware of many of the hardships that I have faced in my life, who is aware of many of the persecutions from within the church bodies to which we belonged, asked me recently whether I would change anything if I had my life to live over.

I began with a sin that had a big impact upon my life.

He wondered whether I would choose to use more honey and less vinegar in dealing with people. He expressed that he thought that this was perhaps something that he would choose.

I said that I would not.

I expressed that especially in the pastoral ministry I had learned that it is wrong to try to sweeten the truth beyond the sweetness of what the truth proclaims in the Gospel. I shared that I learned that no matter how a pastor tries to sweeten the truth, especially regarding the preaching of the Law of God, that it ends up having the same effect. If the truth is preached, even with sugar coating, if it really is preached, it will be rejected by those who do not want to hear it. The sugar coating makes no difference.

My response was that I would use less honey and let the Word be heard without any compromise. In my earlier years as a pastor I did make what I considered to be some very minor compromises to try to make the truth more palatable. I tried to soften the impact that it would have. I learned very quickly that people see through the coating and realize that what is being preached is going to change everything.

Such is the power of the Word. Even when a pastor chooses the way of hypocrisy, even when a pastor chooses to elevate himself above the Word so as to try to do the Holy Spirit’s work, if the Word is actually preached, if the doctrine is actually held forward, the response will be exactly the same with or without the sugar coating. Those who have ears to hear will rejoice to hear it and will be drawn to the Word. Those who do not have ears to hear will recoil and rebel.

I could have saved myself and the first congregation that I served some time if I had been less patronizing. The spilt that occurred may actually have been smaller if I had acted more like a bull in a china shop. But only God really knows.

It is interesting to ponder the first sermon that was preached after the ascension of the Lord Jesus to heaven. On Pentecost St. Peter certainly did not sugar coat the preaching that he proclaimed. The result was amazing. Those who were unwilling to hear mocked the Gospel openly and went their way. Those who heard the Gospel with glad hearts were baptized and carried the Gospel to many parts of the world.

The preaching of the apostles left no possibility for divisions in the Church. Individual opinion, that is, Heresy, was crushed by forthright preaching of the Truth. Those who insisted on pressing their own opinions, that is, heresies, were counted as unbelievers. The apostles did not allow any talk of percentages of unity. They preached that there is one body and that people were either incorporated fully into this body by the work of the Holy Spirit, or they were not of the body.

And God multiplied their numbers mightily.

- - - - -




Thayer Definition:
1) fitted or able to take or choose a thing
2) schismatic, factious, a follower of a false doctrine
3) heretic
Part of Speech: adjective




Thayer Definition:

1) to choose
2) to belong to a sect

Part of Speech: verb

No comments: