Comfortable In Our Own Skin

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Christian, are you comfortable in your own skin?

You gotta love the apostle Paul! He was comfortable in his own skin, meaning, he knew who he was and what he believed. He knew what he was saved from, he knew his Savior, and he made no excuses for it. Paul did not set out to offend. But, neither did he water down truth… A watered down truth is no longer….truth. Sometimes, truth offends.

So I ask you again: Christian, are you comfortable in your own skin?

What was the result for Paul being true to who he was and what he believed?

It was lashings, periods of time in prison, his friends abandoned him, and so much more.

But, like a beaten boxer, he kept getting back up to be “hit” again.

What drove Paul?

Was he ever tempted to give up the fight and call it a day?

We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,

(1 Corinthians 1:23 ESV)

Paul understood that to some, his preaching of Christ crucified would be a stumbling block or foolishness, and he seemed to be ok with that.

We want a salvation that does not offend my desires, and a Savior who not only accepts me “just as I am” but accepts my ongoing blatant rebellion against Him as well.

Why was Paul ok with preaching the Word that caused stumbling blocks and was viewed to be folly? The next verse tells us why.

but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24 ESV)

Christ crucified was what drove this man. He was a man aware of the death to life reality for himself. Once Saul (persecutor of the church) now Paul (church planter, preacher, evangelist, and inmate).

  • Christ crucified is what he knew.
  • Christ crucified is what landed him in prison
  • Christ crucified was a stumbling block to the Jews
  • Christ crucified was foolishness to the Greeks
  • But that was ok to Paul, because Christ crucified was also the power of God to salvation.

We live in a day where pastors and church leaders are seeking to make God’s Word more palatable. Palatable is good…. isn’t it?  Yes and No.  Yes, because we need to help people understand God’s Word. And no, because we are not at liberty to change or to water down God’s Word to conform to this world.

And this is where we get it wrong. God’s Word calls us to conform to the Word, rather than the Word conforming to the world. Sadly, ours is a day when believers water down the Word to help the Word conform to the world.

When the Word and the World collide, we are to go with the Word!

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

(Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

3 Reasons why we are conforming more to the world than to the Word.

1.) The desire for growth. So strong is the desire today to be a pastor, or a member, of a large church that compromise soon follows. In the name of adding people, many are willing to compromise God’s Word.

Sure, I want the church to grow just as much as the next guy! However, we have to ask ourselves: Is the addition of people that comes from watering down the truth of God’s Word actual growth?

While it may be growing “our” kingdom, we must consider, is the kind of growth we are experiencing in our churches, growing God’s Kingdom?

I submit to you that if it is built on the world rather than the Word, it is not growing God’s Kingdom.

This is, perhaps, worse than no growth at all?  If we are adding people to a false gospel and to man’s kingdom, are we not serving ourselves rather than God?

People might be added, but not converted.

I often hear: “you can’t argue with success.” Which means, because there are a lot of people attending, God must be blessing the church. How foolish that we define success with a number of people in a room as opposed to what the Bible clearly states.

(For example: Matthew 28:19-20)

2.) Because of fear

Difficult days lie ahead for the church in America. I am afraid that Christians are afraid. We fear people, government, and political correctness more than we fear God. We lust to be accepted and approved by people.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

(Galatians 1:10 ESV)

Now, that is a man comfortable in his own skin. When preachers toe the line of political correctness, they do so out of fear of man rather than fear of God.

3.) Because we have forgotten

We have forgotten that Christ calls us to “deny ourself, and take up our cross and follow Him.”  We want an easy salvation, one that requires no repentance, no change, and no Savior. Christianity 101 calls us to repent from our sin. The church then is not called to make life more comfortable for us in our sinfulness. The church is a place of repentance and transformation.

And, nothing less than Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection makes this possible!

Ear Tickling Relevance

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I begin this post once again stating that I am not for irrelevance!

The church must be relevant and as I said in the last post – Truth IS relevant.

Read the last 2 posts here:

The Cry For Relevance

Truth IS Relevant

 

My concern is when the church, pastors, and believers lust to be relevant today. And in that lust there lies a warning or concern. Is it possible that in the lust for relevance that we lose sight of truth and in so doing we become “ear ticklers”?

Is it possible in the name of wanting to add people to the church that we water down the message of the Gospel and ones need for salvation?

And, if we water down the gospel and yet we are “relevant” don’t we need to ask: “What exactly are people being saved to?”

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. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

Paul has been exhorting Timothy to preach the Word. Why? Because the Word IS relevant.

It is a sad day when pastors concern themselves more with political correctness than bible correctness. It is dangerous when we study cultural relevance without seeing how relevant the Word is to our culture.

In the name of love, we don’t want to offend. We allow culture to define what is love. This then silences or edits the believer from saying anything of value at all.

The gospel my friend, IS offensive.  The Word, speaking of itself, says it is “folly to those who do not believe….”

The Word calls us sinners. Sinners need to repent. Because, hell and judgement awaits the un-forgiven sinner…..

And that is offensive! It is offensive to sinners, but it is relevant to sinners!

The Christian, the pastor, the church that says nothing of sin, repentance, and our need for a Savior…. well that is like a Dr. who will not tell the patient he is chronically sick. The Dr. is by no means showing love by withholding that information. No, we call that malpractice. And the Dr. gets slapped with a lawsuit for that lack of love!

Listen to the words of Jesus:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours”  Jesus  (John 15:18-20).

I do not hear Jesus saying here, “Be relevant so everyone will be attracted to you and your church!”

In Mark 10 we see Jesus being relevant to the rich young ruler. And the result of His relevant truths caused this man to walk away sad.

Be careful, Christian.  A wrong understanding of relevance might render you silent and thus irrelevant in a culture that needs truth and love. If cultural relevance is your guide, well, you are on shifting sand. Today’s cultural relevance will be irrelevant tomorrow. Grass withers, flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord remains forever….

God, help us to grow in our understanding of your Word. Let us see how incredibly relevant it is to a lost and dying world. And help us to speak without fear and with much relevance, love, and care.