20 May, 2015

The Trend Away From Repentance

I just had a telephone conversation that has left me sitting here for the past 10 minutes asking, "Did I really hear what I just heard?" I'm part in shock, part heart-broken. The person who called me used to attend the church where I pastor, but left the church many years ago. Because he has not been a part of the congregation for years, I was quite surprised that he even called to have this discussion. We've always remained friendly since they left, but certainly not close. 

Anyway, they called today and after a few pleasantries said, "I called because I want to help you and the church."  I asked what he meant and he proceeded to tell me that he had run into another former member this morning who said that he had seen me recently and they had discussed what was wrong with Harvest Church, and more particularly me. Honestly, I wanted to just end the conversation right there, but I allowed him to continue. I asked, "So, just what did the two of you come up with that is wrong with me?" His response was just a bit numbing. He said, "You preach too much by the letter of the book!" I asked him if he would mind clarifying what he meant and he was all too eager to do so. He said, "You preach too much on sin and not enough on the positive aspects of life."  He went on to tell me that if I would take a chapter from Joel Osteen and preach a message that made people feel good about themselves, that the church would be full because people like me personally and they'd come if I'd just preach a message that was "more uplifting."  I asked him if he did not feel it was the preacher's job to warn people about the pitfalls of continuing to live in sin. He said, (and I quote) "I don't need a preacher telling me how to live my life! I need one who makes me feel good and that life is good!"  I asked, "So, if people are sleeping around or getting drunk, I'm not supposed to warn them about what the Bible says about this... but tell them that they are OK in their sin, even though the Bible speaks directly to these things?"  He said that people could make up their own minds and that when they came to church the job of the preacher is to lift them up not make them feel guilty.  
There was a lot more to this conversation, but it only went downhill from this point on. I was in shock that this is how people who are supposed to be born again, spirit-filled followers of Christ felt this way. I was and am heart broken to realize how deep the deception is within the Body of Christ.
A.W. Tozer once said, "What has the church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" Another favorite quote of his says, "Any church that the unsaved worldly community accepts is never a church full of the Holy Spirit."

I decided long ago that I will not bow to the the pressures of acceptance by the masses just to be liked and draw a crowd. The Bible is clear in this simple fact: John the Baptist preached "repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."  Jesus preached, "repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."  The apostles in the book of Acts preached "repent ye therefore and be converted...".
Now, if this was the message of the New Testament, why should the church suddenly cease preaching repentance?

Thanks... but I'll stick with the Bible.  

No comments: