July 18, 2012

The Method & The Message

In my lifetime, it seems the church has almost always been at war with the culture over something. In the 70's it was sexual promiscuity. Then came the 80's: divorce. In the 90's it migrated to abortion. And as we entered a new millennium, the target moved to homosexuality. Don't misunderstand me; these are all things we should be opposed to because God is opposed to them. Where the problem lies is in the "war". Paul makes it clear that we are at "war" with "the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places". PEOPLE are NOT the enemy. SIN is the enemy! And while we are called to preach (and live) repentance of sin, if our message is preached through (what sounds and looks like) venom, it won't be heard. I have a friend who will argue that it's not our method that matters, but that the Word is preached so that the Spirit of God has the opportunity to be heard and do it's work. But if that's the case - that the method doesn't matter - and Paul has stated that "the greatest of these is love" - then why not preach, speak, write, and communicate in love? Why not err on the side of love rather than loathing?

I watch ideologies and bad theology being shot down on Facebook and Twitter all the time. I not only watch it, I take part in it. I'm called to "...reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching". But the problem I'm seeing is that the method - the HOW - with which the message is being communicated is often not attacking the ideology or the bad theology; it's attacking the person holding the misguided idea or believing the twisted scripture. If we step back for a moment, I think many of us would realize it's as if we've drifted into this thinking that every person who's misguided woke up that day and wanted to be. And sometimes it's not even misguided; it's just that they hold a different opinion than we do. We take it personally. We don't write blogposts or Facebook posts attacking Liberalism - we attack Liberals. We speak as if every person who's taken scripture out of context did it because they wanted to be deceived or to deceive others. Could it be possible that they've just misunderstood?

When's the last time you put yourself in the position of the person with whom you disagree? I mean, isn't the point of your argument, your preaching, your blogpost that you want to show them the truth? Because if it is, it might work wonders to start attempting to communicate in love, blowing holes in the misguided idea, rather than communicating in (what appears to be) anger, blowing holes in the person.

Do you think someone struggling with homosexuality is going to repent because of your blogpost, rant, or sermon? In reality, God may choose to use those things as a tool. But at the end of the day, they're only a tool. It will ONLY be because the Holy Spirit and the Word of God have come in power (as Hebrews 4:12 tells us they can) and pierces the heart, revealing the sin. And if by chance God chooses to use you (or your message) as a tool, keep in mind: "God's kindness is meant to lead to repentance". And yes - for those who want to jump on the next verses from Romans 2, Paul is addressing the demand for repentance of sin. But as he does, he reminds us that God's approach in leading us to repentance is the fact that His kindness, mercy, grace, and love are overwhelming! So the question is: Why aren't ours?

Are we just looking for an excuse to be pissed off or vitriolic?
Do we just need someone to debate, argue with, and attack?
If so, the harsh reality is that there is sin in our own life that (at this point) we're still too prideful to confront, admit, confess, and leave behind.

Or maybe for some of us, we just don't even realize how we sound. Maybe you've been yelling so long it sounds like whispering to you now. One thought: Stop yelling for a few minutes. Is God speaking to your heart about this? Really? Or are you so busy yelling, posting, debating, and hating that you've stopped listening? Are you even listening now?

Do you see this? Is the METHOD totally clouding the MESSAGE?
Because the most important message we have to communicate - that the God of the Universe has saved us from sin and offers us new life ONLY in Jesus Christ - needs to be heard.

Dig Deeper:
James 1:19
Romans 10:14-17


Randall Ney said...

Though we do all of these wonderful works, but don't have love we are like a clanging cymbal.

Here's one for you guys you might relate to. Have you ever had that guy speed past you and you want to get mad? My wife and I usually tell ourself, "I bet his wife is in labor right now and he is rushing home to get her... lol" It helps us from being so judgmental because we don't know what's really going on with him.

Lord, please help me to treat people with Your love and forgiveness...

Wendel said...

Please... Thank you!

Wendel said...

I've had to either delete or hide a few people from my status updates because all the constant ranting and raving. Whether they had a good point or not, many times they were simply misrepresenting the Kingdom, or even worse, the King and His heart and character by their tone/words. I love the point you make about listening to God and not simply vomiting all over people with our righteous theology. I always think of how Jesus always was gentle to the humble whether they were right or not, in order for the person to get in the right path. He was usually forcefully and vocally opposed to the haughty and the ones who were always demanding people to change their outward garment, while their own hearts were filthy. 

Wendel said...

Sorry for the stuttering... I, many times questioned those people what was the fruit of what they were making the big fuss about. All I could see were people arguing and offending one another, simply because they, most of the times were demonizing the other side of the argument (or even the other person for that matter). By demonizing, I mean, they would get the extremes of what other people believe to prove a point. The result? Dissension, not salvation or even restoration. Great post, Brian.

Brian Mayfield said...

Totally agree with you Wendel. I think we just lose sight of why we started ranting in the first place. Isn't the point to win someone over? If so, I'm thinking "speaking the truth in love" is the best course. Praying I get this right more often!