We have been in the States now for the first two months of our home service and have witnessed firsthand the same rejection of God here in our beloved homeland that we see among people in other countries where we have served. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that we are presently in the same country we left in 2010.
It has been said that new believers—in countries where they have given up everything to follow Christ—cannot believe that every American would not be a Christian. General prosperity, “democracy” and freedom of speech and religion tend to be seen as “Christian” qualities.
Certainly, our Judeo-Christian value system has allowed these positive attributes to thrive. But, as a nation, we no longer operate with the same set of moral values we once did. Christian leaders in the west are grasping at straws to figure out how to slow our collective downhill slide. But some seem to be overreacting in their efforts to make the Gospel message clear and more acceptable.
For instance, there is a popular American preacher/author who says that the church needs to discard the bulk of God’s word and just proclaim the words of Jesus and teach from the books of the New Testament. The author’s reasoning is that most people were drawn to Jesus because of his message of repentance and living a changed life by accepting him as Messiah and Savior; therefore we don’t need really need to get bogged down in teaching the “Old” Testament.
He must be reading from a different Bible than I read, because it seems to me that the Gospel writers point out that most people rejected Jesus—even after seeing all of the signs, wonders and miracles that proved that he was the Messiah, sent by Father God himself.
Getting rid of three-quarters of the bureaucrats in the UN might not do any real harm to that “august body,” but cutting out the same amount of God’s word causes violence to the Gospel message and the communication that God has given us to understand the world, our place in it, and His offer of redemption through the blood of Jesus.
This kind of thinking—instead of showing wisdom and ingenuity—shows a certain amount of apathy toward God Himself, since one cannot separate God’s words from his character. It is akin to telling engineering students that 9th grade algebra is all the math that they will ever need in their professional lives. No need to study calculus and upper level mathematics—why overtask oneself?
The author (and those who espouse these types of views) who preaches and teaches these things in his sermons and in his writing seems to be missing the point of the Bible as a whole: All of history revolves around the God who created the universe and all that is in it, including you and me. We don’t automatically get to cut out the tough parts of Scripture, which we are too lazy to study, in order to really understand what God is teaching us. What ever happened to, “Make every effort to present yourself approved to God, an unashamed workman who accurately handles the word of truth.”
The Bible—in its entirety—provides us with a wonderful metanarrative for those who are willing to explore it. God used approximately 40 different people over a period of 1,500 years to record what He wanted for the world to know in order to explain why we are here on this planet. It’s not just a book of facts, figures and difficult names to pronounce. Unfortunately, those of us who are teachers haven’t done a very good job in living this out or explaining it to our family members, friends and the rest of the world. As humans, we tend to make it all about “me.” But in fact, the reality is that everything is about our Creator.
Instead of throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater, I will double down and say that we should be spending more time studying the difficult parts of Scripture which are challenging and troublesome to our 21st century minds and hearts.
It is there where God will meet us in unexpected and profound ways.
“Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” — Ephesians 5:15-17