The Gifts Part 79
There are two kinds of people that do not have the luxury of telling people what they want to hear: doctors, and preachers. Your neighbor might tell you your lawn looks great even though it doesn’t, your barber might insist that you really aren’t losing your hair even though you are, your spouse might maintain that neon green polyester pantsuits are back in style even though they never were, but when it comes to doctors and preachers they can’t tell you want you want to hear simply to spare your feelings or make you feel good about yourself.
Sometimes the truth hurts, but it is necessary for us to hear it. Sometimes the truth is the last thing we want to hear but it’s the one thing we need to hear.
I often wonder what the Bible would read like today if Paul and Peter, Matthew, James, John or Luke had been more interested in building their ministries than preserving and transmitting the truth. What would the word of God read like if the Apostles and Disciples of Christ were more concerned with personal kingdom building than obedience to God the Father?
If Paul would have employed the mindset of so many preachers today, that of accentuating the positive, and ignoring the shortcomings of certain individuals or a certain body, he would have simply praised the Corinthians for their avid desire to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and would not have rebuked them for their lack of love. What the church at Corinth would have wanted to hear and I know this because throughout every generation it is predictably identical is that they were doing great, that they were spiritual juggernauts, that there was nothing they needed to work on, and that they had reached the heights of knowledge others merely dreamed of reaching.
Give the people what they want, and you will be loved and praised. Give the people what they need, and they will hate you and scorn you for it. What those who don’t think but simply react to being told what they need rather than what they want to hear, is that they are being told these things for their own good, for their own edification, and for their own spiritual wellbeing.
No man of God sets out to make enemies, no man of God wakes up one morning and decides to become the object of scorn and disdain just because he needs some excitement in his life. True men of God obey the voice of God knowing full well that these things will follow, knowing full well that they will be belittled, reviled, despised and disparaged once they have spoken, but having no choice in the matter.
I’m certain that once they read Paul’s letter to them, there were those within the church of Corinth who thought to themselves, ‘who does he think he is? How dare he? Isn’t this the same guy that just a while back was persecuting the church, why should we listen to him now?’ Such reactions would not have come if all Paul had done was praise them, they would not have bristled if Paul hadn’t challenged them, but it was for their own good, it was out of love, and a deep desire to see the house of God as strong, and vibrant and full of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit as it ought to have been.
No, I didn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, today’s post is an involuntary reaction to an e-mail I received sometime during the night from the ever present ‘anonymous’ who felt as though I was judging people, and queried who it was I believed myself to be to make such claims as ‘it is due to our disobedience, immaturity and unwillingness to let go of the things of this earth that we are not seeing the power of God manifest within the church.’
Dear anonymous, I am nobody, save someone with eyes to see, and ears to hear that which is happening within the confines of what we call the church today. If you believe that the current spiritual climate is as good as it gets, or as good as God intended it to be, then I feel sorry for you. If however you realize as so many have in recent years that what the church has become and what the Bible says it ought to be are very different indeed, then only one question need be asked and answered: Between God and the church, who is it incumbent upon to change? Ought God to change in order to suit our views, or ought we as the church change to be in harmony with God and His word?
Convince a man he need not change, even though in the depths of his heart he knows he ought, convince him that he’s perfectly fine living in sin, and duplicity and hypocrisy, and you will have a friend for life, for anything that gives liberty to the flesh and does not bring it into submission, will be loved by the flesh.
The problem however arises when we begin to contemplate the fact that this present life will one day end, and sooner or later we will have to stand before the judgment seat of God and answer for the unbiblical liberties we handed out to people like party favors, as well as for the souls of those who trusted us to lead them to the truth, yet whom we allowed to remain shackled and bound for fear of losing their support or their friendship.
I would rather have no friends left to speak of, yet see everyone I loved enough to speak the truth to in heaven, than delude myself into believing that the world is my oyster, all of its inhabitants are my dear, dear friends, and one day have to give account for my silence, cowardice and unwillingness to obey the word of God when the obedience thereof would have cost me something.
Paul knew that he was endangering his friendship with those within the church of Corinth, Paul knew that he would upset some of them by the words he wrote, but his allegiance was to God, and the after-effects of his obedience to the Father were immaterial to him.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.