Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Is the church led by public opinion or God?

Over at Camp On This there are more words of wisdom from Tozer. It is interesting how true these words are today. I was particularity caught by the following:

Prophets… not Mascots
This kind of freedom is necessary if we are to have prophets in our pulpits again instead of mascots. These free men will serve God and mankind from motives too high to be understood by the rank and file of religious retainers who today shuttle in and out of the sanctuary.

They will make no decisions out of fear, take no course out of a desire to please, accept no service for financial considerations, perform no religious acts out of mere custom, nor allow themselves to be influenced by the love of publicity or the desire for reputation.

Much that the church - even the evangelical church - is doing today, it is doing because it is afraid not to do it. Ministerial associations take up projects for no higher reasons than that they are scared into it. Whatever their ear-to-the-ground, fear-inspired reconnoitering leads them to believe - or fear - the world expects them to do, they will be doing come next Monday morning with all kinds of trumped-up zeal and show of godliness. The pressure of public opinion calls these prophets, not the voice of Jehovah.

The true church has never sounded out public expectations before launching its crusades. Its leaders heard from God and went ahead wholly independent of popular support or the lack of it. They knew their Lord's will and did it, and their people followed them - sometimes to triumph, but more often to insults and public persecution - and their sufficient reward was the satisfaction of being right in a wrong world.

How often today is the church led more by public opinion than the Word of God? It would appear by our actions we would rather please the world than God. But of course that is not what we would claim as the usual reasoning behind this is that we are called to be relevant and are to contextualize the Gospel to reach the lost. In the end what is it the lost are reached with but simply more worldly babble. What would seem to truly be at the heart of the matter is the fear of the world that Tozer speaks of.

Whether one speaks of the Seeker driven/friendly/sensitive church or the Emergent Conversation/Movement both appear to seek to find their way by the opinions of the world. Read any book written by Barna, or other pollster, and the gist is that this is what the world seeks so if we do not get on that boat/wave/current we will miss out and the church will be doomed. We are called to Glorify God, the antithesis of what the world seeks, so what we will do will be counter cultural and look out of place. This is not a license to worship without thought but it is a call to look to someplace else other than the world.

In 2 Tim 4:1-4 it says:

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: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 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, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

While the world will see the word and the message of the Gospel as foolish (1 Cor 1:18-20) we are to be fools, in the world’s eyes, and keep to the Word and not let all of the other things detract from this. This takes perseverance and boldness but is possible because of the power of the Holy Spirit.

I pray that the church would step back and make sure that the main thing, God’s Word, stays the main thing no matter what the world thinks.


RevyRev said...

Great post Tony. And great quote by Tozer. How true it is that the prophets are turned into mascots. And instead Jesus being the risen Lord who demands our surrendered lives we get Jesus being marketed as a product.

I'm guessing the trick is to see the worldliness of the culture and contfront it with biblical truth without embracing the sin of the culture or becoming so ignorant and distant from the culture that we fail to winsomely present the doctrinal truth they need most.

BTW, Tony have you been watching the DGM Conference videos? Wow, impactful and thought provoking.

Tony said...

I agree that it in some ways it is not easy to figure out how to reach a culture without being sucked in. But I think that sometimes we make it harder by focusing on everything else but the Word of God.

As far as the videos, I have downloaded them and now have to set time aside to watch them. They look like they will be good and it should be a good conference.