There’s good reason for the visceral reaction some have to irrelevant, self-diluted people telling them what they must do to save the planet, the rainforest, or the chickadee. At the same time, they themselves feel exempted from doing likewise, and while they’re puttering about in private jets, going to climate action conferences, it’s you who must stop driving your Hyundai to work every day; otherwise, the blood of billions is on your hands.
It’s the hypocrisy, I think, but also the condescending, elitist, snobbish way they go about telling you that rather than turn the heat on in winter, you should dress in layers while the voltage needed to illuminate their mansions could power an entire region in Papua New Guinea. No, I’ve never been, but I hear it’s the place to be if you like taro root.
One thing I’ve always respected about Paul was that he wasn’t the type to insist that those to whom he was writing do as he said, not as he did. Coincidentally, neither was any individual who, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was compelled to pen what would later become books of the Bible. There’s no sense they are of the mindset that those who can’t do teach in any of their writings because it’s hard to write about something you don’t know, have never been, or fail to understand.
I am not an island unto myself. I don’t think I know it all or that I have no need of spiritual succor myself, so whenever I have some free time, which is as rare as an honest politician, I try to find a sermon to listen to on the interwebs. One thing I’ve noticed, especially with the up-and-coming, young guns of evangelicalism, is that you can tell they’ve never experienced or lived what they’re attempting to teach others.
They quote the right verses well enough and say the right things for the most part, but there is no passion in the delivery, and there is no hunger, yearning, or desire to experience what they are attempting to relay. It’s a guy in skinny jeans with a neck tattoo being professorial, not divinely inspired, and it shows that they’ve never been near Jesus, walked with Him, or known Him.
The presence of Christ in your life is transformative. You cannot remain as you were, doing as you did once you have an encounter with Jesus. That transformation comes through, whether consciously or unconsciously, and it’s never forced or fabricated. When it is, when men are pretending to be something they’re not, if you listen hard enough and long enough, you begin to spot the contradiction.
If Jesus is Lord, and He redeemed you from eternal destruction, why do you talk about yourself so much? Why do you try to elevate your stature while minimizing Christ? If it is Him working through you, why do you appropriate what He has done as though it were your own?
If heaven is your ultimate destination, and being in His presence for eternity is your ultimate goal, why focus on the things of this earth so consistently as to make yourself predictable every time you open your mouth?
If I were to insist that I loved my wife, yet every other day I was seen out on the town with another, would anyone believe that I loved my wife?
In a nutshell, that’s the answer to why how we conduct ourselves matters. People watch, people see, and people draw conclusions based on the aggregate data they’ve collected. There’s a reason we are told that our conduct must be worthy of the gospel of Christ because nothing is more off-putting than someone whose consistent actions betray him as being a hypocrite at heart.
I’m not telling you to follow me; I don’t want you to follow me. I’m just a guy working out his salvation with fear and trembling; no more. So again, don’t follow me, but for your soul’s sake, don’t follow them. Before you ask who you should follow, follow Jesus. There’s a novel idea. Don’t follow men who insist they can get you an audience with Christ; don’t follow individuals promising you a face-to-face with Jesus; go straight to the source because if you knock, He will open. You do not need an intermediary.
Thirty-seven years is a long time to see people shipwrecked, heartbroken, and disillusioned because the guy they thought was the next messianic figure for the ages turned out to be a perv who liked getting rubdowns from gay men. Yes, that’s how long I’ve been in ministry. Yes, I’ve seen it all, and most of it isn’t good.
Humility and faithfulness are not bombastic enough for the average Christian. You need an edge, an angle, something to get people’s attention, something to draw the eye, something to get them talking about you. Maybe a first tattoo in your seventies while knocking on death’s door with all the vigor your bony fingers could muster. I don’t know; I’m just spitballing.
Entertainment is all well and good; who doesn’t like a laser light show with a fog machine as backup? But that’s not why you go to church. Your first question shouldn’t be how long the service is, how far you have to drive, whether the sermon made you feel good, or if the pastor is hip enough to have an Instagram account. Your first and only question should be whether it is Biblical. Is it Christ-centered, Christ-focused, Christ-glorifying, and Christ-exalting? Did the message focus on Christ and the cross or man and the things of this earth?
Not all the fault lies with the mealy-mouthed, duplicitous, half-hearted, lukewarm pulpit pimps. If there were no demand, there would be no supply. If you want truth, you need look no further than your Bible. If you’re looking for voices telling you that’s not what the Bible means, even though that’s what it says, there are plenty of those as well. As always, the choice is yours.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.