Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Stuttering, Stammering Elder

A culture of political correctness
There can be no reasonable denial that those of us who live in America live in arguably the most politically correct society on earth. One example is the young man who was not allowed to fill out his profile on Xbox as being from Fort Gay, WV. Yes, it is a real place. I am from Chapmanville WV. But according to Microsoft, the name is offensive. In Sydney Australia there was a dust up over the Santa Clause laugh, “ho ho ho” because it could frighten children and offend women. The Maine Human Rights Act banned ANY gender division in public schools because it offended a 12 year old boy who wanted to be a girl. In 2008, a Carmel, Indiana, school bus driver, Betty Campbell, overheard little Rachel Zimmer saying that she couldn’t vote for presidential candidate Barak Obama because of his positions on abortion and gay marriage. That led to unsubstantiated allegations that she said that other students would go to Hell, which Zimmer strongly denies. When Campbell heard the allegations (again, unsubstantiated) she stopped the bus and delivered a politically correct sermon on tolerance to her captive audience, who probably just wanted to go home and play Xbox before their moms and dads came home.  The security camera caught it all on tape, including Campbell’s conversations with another student. She probed this student for racist allegations, threatening to “eat Zimmer alive” and calling her “a stupid little bigot”. It gets worse. After dropping Zimmer at home, Campbell completed her route and then RETURNED to the Zimmer home, ordering Zimmer and her sister back into the EMPTY school bus (without parental knowledge or consent) for more browbeating. She again lectured Zimmer about her opinions on gay marriage and reduced the girl to tears. After seeing the tape, Zimmer’s parents went ballistic, saying: “That’s not someone looking out for someone. That’s someone out to get somebody.” Carmel Clay Schools refused to fire or even discipline Campbell, stating that she was working within “the scope of her employment.” The family has since filed a civil lawsuit.

The new way to hate is to speak things that are offensive
As it turns out, the most common way to hate people, even in evangelical churches in our hyper-politically correct culture is to tell them the truth. In other words, professing Christians are accusing other professing Christians that they are guilty of hate just for believing and quoting the Bible. For example, oppose gay sex, and even to many professing Christians, you are a hater and a bigot. Embrace male leadership in the church and oppose female leadership and you are a misogynist. The same is true if you dare affirm the biblical teaching of wives submitting to their husbands. If you dare to identify heresy for what it is, the heretic is likely to call you a hater. Political correctness empowers autonomy by rejecting the idea that we should ever be called to give an account for our behavior or our beliefs. The way to love people is simply to accept them for who and what they are. Anything less than that, and you are a hater. Now, I want you to think about how such thinking might impact the Christian doctrine of repentance. Not so funny is it! What bugs me the most about this is how some of leaders are unwittingly influenced by this behavior. It is indeed the product of the fear and intimidation of man. I will say more about that in a moment.

What is an elder
The elder is an overseer of the church. The elder is charged with the care and spiritual well-being of his community. His interest is solely focused on the spiritual health of his people. This interest is driven by his greater concern to please God by faithfully executing his calling. 1 Peter 5:2 commands the elders to lead, guide, care for, and assist the flock of God among you. Then he adds, exercising oversight, or, in other words, taking responsibility for the flock. Moreover, Peter says that elder is to take do these things according to God, or to the will of God. In other words, the care and oversight is to be carried out with a single eye to the will of God for that flock. God’s concern, God’s will, God’s word, God’s directive must be the single driving consideration for the elder.

What is truth
Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus also said that God’s word is truth. God’s word is our only source of spiritual nutrition. If we are to be healthy, we must desire the sincere milk and eventually, meat of the Word of God. The Word of God sanctifies the believer. The Word of God frees the believer. The Word of God brings true knowledge so that the believer is transformed more and more into one who honors and glorifies God with every part of his life. The elder is to dispense the Word of God so that our souls might be rich, nurtured, strong, vibrant. This raises the question why would an elder have trouble being direct and honest when it comes to basic doctrines of the church and of his local community? The Word of God is a light unto our path, a lamp for our feet. It provides the Christian with precise what we need in order to be the light God has called us to be. Why do some pastors/elders feel like they have to walk on eggshells when it comes to certain biblical truths? For example, why would an elder stammer in his attempt to defend particular redemption, or total depravity, or predestination? Why would he stammer when he is asked a question about submission and male leadership? Part of the reason can be blamed on the fact that we are influenced, to one degree or another, by our culture. Part of the process of being transformed into the image of Christ means that we become less and less like the culture, less and less influenced by cultural thinking. Christian dogma needs no apologies. Christian dogma is not embarrassing. Christian dogma, is however, offensive. It is inherently offensive. It is naturally offensive. It is necessarily offensive to any unregenerate mind. Scripture is, by its very nature, offensive to an unregenerate mind because of what it is by its very nature. So, Mr. Elder, please stop stammering around issues that you know the world finds offensive. Show us that you have some backbone. Demonstrate for us that you are not influenced by the culture. Thunder God’s truth without reservation, without trepidation, and without apology.

Why this matters
The reason this matters is because God matters. The reason this matters is because Christian truth matters. God has purposely chosen the passionate, convicted preaching of the gospel without apology, to save the lost. The Word of Lord needs no softening. God’s truth needs no chaser. God’s medicine works its miracle of regeneration just as it is. We need men who are more concerned with what God thinks than with what men think. We need men who are not afraid if certain types of people leave his church, or reject his leadership. We need men who follow God and His truth without reservation and who rally the rest of us to do the same. “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”

It matters because what God has to say about us, to us, and through us ALWAYS MATTERS. And it matters more than all the opinions on this earth matter. It matters more than what these God-hating, arrogant, materialistic, narcissistic Americans think. Thunder away, Pastor!

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