Thinking has a tendency to expose uncomfortable realities. In the weeks since stepping down from an official ministry position I have had the opportunity to engage in such reflection. Particularly, my thoughts have centered around what the church is and what the church should be. My heart and mind have grown heavy with the reality that local churches in the Bible belt are in desperate need of biblical consideration, brutal honesty, and sincere repentance.
The lack of biblical literacy, expository preaching, and basic hermeneutical practices is nothing short of an ecclesiological blight. If the word of the living God is unknown, untaught, and carelessly misunderstood, then what does that say of our view of God himself? In many congregations truth has been traded for triteness and biblical authority has been usurped by either tradition, relevance, or spiritual narcissim. Sermons may range from legalistic banter to spiritualized pop-psychology and the general congregants often don’t have the biblical wherewithal to detect the danger. Have we forgotten that God has spoken in His word?
Truthfulness is that which liberates us from the shackles of facade. Individual and corporate epiphanies of brutal honesty are needed so that we might recognize our own blindness. Far too often we have trusted in politics, morality, psychology, philosophy, culture, marketing, tradition, intellect, and money instead of the sheer power of the word, the gospel, and the spirit. The damning thing about it all is that we are so permeated by American culture that we can’t see our own proclivities, even as we proclaim the word of God. Only the truth and truthfulness can save us now (Sara Groves).
Repentance is a painful and precious response to truth. How have our notions of church, evangelism, missions, service, preaching, worship, and salvation been tainted by a “westernized” orthodoxy? Ask God to reveal His powerful truth from His word individually and corporately so that all our eyes might be opened to our idolatrous inclinations. The pain of that recognition is far surpassed by the release of grace and obedience.
This brutal honesty starts with me. My preferences and presuppositions have been the basis of my perspective for far too long. It also starts with you. Pray for biblical discernment and study the Bible. When it cuts against the grain of your own opinion (because it will), embrace it and repent. There is nothing more liberating than the healing wound of an encounter with eternal truth.