Summary: What is the value of God’s word? Is walking by faith truly an instinctual thing or are we called to examine our walk in a more concrete way?
Christian living. When I sat down to write this I was trying to think of some clever story to tell, some witty anecdote to portray the concept of this message. Unfortunately, when I started thinking about it I realized that idea in itself is the very problem I want to address. Looking around we as Christians have created a pop culture in Christianity that seems so similar to that of the world. Music, movies, clothing all wrapped up in a neat commercial package. Suffering churches seek out analysts to diagnose and dissect church health and create action plans to address the issues. Very slowly the church has not only integrated itself in to society it has amalgamated itself into the world.
I had a very hard time accepting this when I first looked at it. Christianity is treated as a separate and different thing in the world and so I had always assumed that it was. The realization of something was off was when I came to the Christian living section of local Christian book stores. I am sure most have come across the 10 step, 3 step , 5 step programs for how to be just about any kind of effective Christian. A multi-million dollar industry now exists supporting the work of many a Christian self help guru.
This in itself may not necessarily be a bad thing. People with a desire to live a more Christlike walk seeking out ways to improve sounds like the right idea in theory. Unfortunately, time and again I am hearing a phrase in conversations that is quite troubling. It goes something like this "Well, I don’t believe that. It doesn’t feel right to me." This is an extremely challenging thing, the idea that we are to discern right and wrong standards through our feelings.
I have not been a Christian as long as most having only a decade of the faith as my life experience. But, something I am very familiar with is the concept of it feels right, do it. I used to live a life dedicated to that pursuit. It led me to several alcohol poisonings, drug abuse and overall some life threatening choices. Obviously then a caution goes off when I hear within the church the same slogan coming forth.
What amazes me most about Christianity is this, we have been given something absolute. We have been given something not by mans hands but directly from God that is without error, without fault. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says
"16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." To know that we have been given a manual to guide us, teach us, direct us and equip us and that it is breathed from God is amazing to me!
God has breathed several times before back in Genesis. The result was always this..."It was good." I am not talking the sense of good that the world has like good is okay but perfect is better. I am taking good that is completely void of evil. A Godly good that within no evil can dwell. To know that within creation God’s word stands as a mighty creation that God himself declares "it was good."
Knowing and having this reassurance however is at times of little value. A study released from Barna group indicates that currently in North America 16% of Christians read their Bible once a once a day. Even worse than that is the statement from the same survey stats claiming 41% of Christians never or rarely read the Bible. There are more Christians never reading the Bible than those reading it daily!
To rest assured in 2 Timothy 3:16 is all well and good. However, what follows it is the point that we need to be extremely aware of.
2 Timothy 4:1-5 " I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."
The whole thing acts as a clear call sounding out to us but the part that strikes me the most is verse 3 and 4. People will not endure sound teaching, they will accumulate teachers to suit their own passions, they will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. Sharp and concise looking at many churches today where we condone vices of the flesh in the name of Grace, where we promote the concept of "I don’t believe that, it doesn’t feel right." I would say with some assuredness that the time is no longer coming, the time has come.