We as Christians don’t like to be blunt. We tend to abhor confrontation, particularly within the Body of Christ. We don’t like dealing with the adult conversations in life. A discussion that is going to cause pain or discomfort should be avoided at all costs.
As much as we don’t like to admit it, Joel Osteen and his type of preacher have greatly influenced the modern church in this area. Whether they be clearly doctrinally wrong like Joel or simply heavily influenced by the gospel of positive thinking, these “I am ok, you are ok” teachers have made an outsized impact. Even those churches who have identified the false teachers for what they are have not been spared.
The picture of Christians as first of all nice, positive and encouraging above all things has radiated out from the television services of these type of preachers and been imprinted upon much of the church.
Seek to be nice and inoffensive first above all and the rest will be added to you seems to be our motto. Trying to make friends with people and avoid all confrontation seems to be the bedrock of our life here as Christians.
Shiny, happy Christians going to their shiny, happy church to listen to their shiny, happy pastor tell them that they are just peachy.
The problem is this is not real life. Jesus said we would have trouble in this life. Our time here on earth can be gritty, hard and at times painful. We can get ourselves into all sorts of trouble with sin. Even things that are not sin but are just not good for us entice us to bad, agony filled places. At times, it is only through faking things are ok can the shiny, happy facade be maintained.
Strong voices of truth from those who love one another can break through this cycle of pretending and sin. We can help each other to the abundant life that Jesus promised us. But must speak up in truth when things are bad.
We can not avoid the adult conversations even when they hurt like mad.
But true love of the type contemplated in that same passage in 1 Corinthians 13 is described as not rejoicing in iniquity. The One who lived out that agape love to its perfection never celebrated sin. In fact, Jesus would confront a person openly and clearly about the sin that was destroying them. Not because He hated them, but exactly because He loved them.
At times Jesus was even quite blunt. Jesus ate with sinners and was friends with the worst offenders, but He never left them there in their sin. He gave people the knowlege they needed to turn from what was bad for them and follow Him. He told them what was wrong so that they could get right.
The men of the New Testament church did the same. James, Paul, and Peter among others write openly of the problems that are in the church during their day. They confront the issues themselves, even among the Apostles, and direct the churches they address to do so within their bodies. They do not mince words. They get directly to the point and hammer it home where necessary. Taking their roles as leaders in the church seriously, they deal with sin and
Taking their roles as leaders in the church seriously, they deal with sin and worldy practices that come into the Body without fear of loss of revenue or offending. They do it in love. They do it with the goal of restoring the person to the Lord. But they don’t shy away from the problem.
This is something that we need to do better in our churches today. With so many cultural influences and traps attacking us from every direction, we need people to love us enough to point out when we are sinning. We need brothers and sisters with direction from the Lord to pull us aside and point us away from the world and to Jesus.
Correcting, rebuking, teaching and training each require knowledge of the wrong way to do things before we can understand the right. Each should be done in love, in peace and with the goal of encouragement…but also clearly and yes, even bluntly.
We are not the Holy Spirit and as a result, our job is not to sniff out sin in other’s lives.
But we can help each other grow away from the sins that are destroying us. We can encourage each other to flee from the weights that are slowing down are walk with God.
We are all running a race to win the prize that the Lord laid out for us. We can never take the steps necessary for another Christian to complete their race any faster. But we can enourage them to train and give them suggestions on how to run more efficiently.
If we were setting out to run a marathon wearing a full snowsuit and parka, wouldn’t we appreciate someone telling us of our error?
Our churches should be filled with love, joy and peace. They should be happy and shine with the light of Jesus. But the Body of Christ is the people who fill the church. We are sinful and get lost. So we need to be willing to have the adult conversations necessary to nudge each other back on track when we go astray.
The more we do so and deal with issues in a loving Jesus-honoring way, the more we will actually be the shiny, happy church we were pretending to be.