Summary: I have to admit I felt annoyed at what I thought was his ignorance and arrogance when he spoke about the Church we attend. I feel that way when any Bible based Church is denigrated or dismissed.
Part 13 - Matthew 10:16 - WISE AS SERPENTS OR JUST SPITTING VENOM?
I was talking to a friend on Friday about our Church. He said he didn’t like our way of doing Church. I asked him what he meant and he said that he could not see how a Church could have a band out the front and what appeared to him to be a concert going on and so many people. He said "That’s not my idea of Church".
I was tempted to draw him out by saying "What part of our Church don’t you like - people giving their lives to Christ each week, young and old people alike involved in worshiping Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, Biblical preaching, commitment, encouragement to live the Christian life, millions of dollars into missions and orphanages, community projects...?" There was so much that I could have said, but my friend was on his way before I had a chance (Yeah you’re right, my attitude wasn’t all that good either. I have to admit I felt annoyed and a little defensive at what I thought was his ignorance and arrogance when he spoke about the Church we attend. I feel that way when any Bible based Church is denigrated or dismissed. But of course, my friend was just giving me his opinion and I wasn’t being sensitive enough to even consider his point of view. Just as well we didn’t have time to continue the conversation.)
Yesterday morning and night at Hillsong Church was a time of wonderful worship and preaching. I love being a part of what God is doing in our Church and I see the commitment, dedication, and Godly leadership of our Pastors. We were encouraged to be involved in reaching out to people in our workplaces with the love of Jesus and as always, there were people who gave their lives to the Lord.
We also watched a TV interview about our Pastor, Brian Houston, last night after Church. Usually in such interviews he is a SHEEP AMONG WOLVES who are hungry to give their preconceived slant on the Churches finances. The interview was fairer than others I have seen and Brian spoke so well in answering the deliberately provocative questions.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:16 (NLT) "Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves."
Whoah! SHEEP, SNAKES, DOVES. Which is it? What is being said here? I know some people who are as harmless and wimpy as sheep and doves. There first move of defense when faced with a difficult situation is "FLY, CRY OR DIE!" They lack the other quality of SHREWDNESS, that INTUITIVE WISDOM that is needed in ministry.
Others have authority and although they don’t back down when faced with difficult situations, they are like a BULL IN A CHINA SHOP and don’t know when to treat a situation with CARE AND SENSITIVITY. They have the sensitivity of a freight train bearing down on stranded car on the line.
Sometimes you meet a leader who has both qualities - A SHREWD INTUITIVE WISDOM AND A COMPASSIONATE SENSITIVITY. I see Pastor Brian Houston as this kind of leader. I have been amazed at the strength (some would call it guts), wisdom and sensitivity of how he has faced some difficult situations. He has done so with integrity despite the venom that has often come from other Church leaders who have tried to bring him down. Brother against brother. Why do Christian leaders do this? They are not as wise as snakes but they can sure spit venom.
I need to be able to take the risk of being shrewd and wise and downright DANGEROUS TO THE DEVIL. I also need SENSITIVITY so that others can respond to Christ’s love. Sensitivity gives that shrewdness and wisdom the ability to reach out and influence others for Christ. Lord, give me both qualities at the same time so that I can be effective in serving you.
Excuse the analogy but the words of the song called "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers came to mind - "You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away and know when to run..." I don’t endorse gambling by any means but I do endorse being discerning as I speak with people about Christ - being WISE AS SERPENTS AND HARMLESS AS DOVES.
God bless you Church as you are WISE AS SERPENTS AND AS HARMLESS AS DOVES today and refuse to spit venom against the Church of the living God.