Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Clinging to Truth With the Wrong Attitude

So this guy writes me a letter…… More about that later in this blog.

The sovereignty of God. What an awesome concept. Knowing that God is in charge and in control gives me great peace in an uncertain world.

Unfortunately, clinging to that truth with the wrong attitude can be counter-productive to the mission of the church. It is so easy to just “let go and let God” and do nothing, be nothing, accomplish nothing, and simply hope for the best, because, after all, “all things work together for good.” We can embrace the sovereignty of God to the point we rationalize our own un-involvement by blaming (glorifying?) God for the outcome. I mean, if God has already determined the outcome, why bother?

That’s fatalism and it’s not found in the scripture.

I must give God my best every day – in bodily sacrifice, in morality, in leadership, in service, in giving, in witnessing, AND in working to fulfill the Great Commission.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Why would He weep over a city of people who were far from God, if it didn’t matter?

It matters.

To lean on the knowledge of God’s sovereignty to the point of inaction is to discredit the very One we claim to follow. I’m afraid this attitude prevails in a great many people today – a reflection that they love INFORMATION about Jesus more than Jesus Himself, or the mission He gave the Church.

A couple of years ago this man wrote me a letter (and even included a pamphlet) to tell me how that our church places too much emphasis on the Great Commission, and that building relationships to unchurched people was unnecessary because of the sovereignty of God.

So I wrote him back and offered some Biblical correction. This is what I said:

1. “The church still has an operating mandate to fulfill the Great Commission to GO and make disciples.”

2. “Most Christians have a siege mentality or an isolationist mentality and therefore must be challenged to have contact with unbelievers.”

3. “The gospel is spread primarily through relationships – even a casual reading of the NT demonstrates that.”

4. “And finally, believers DO HAVE a ROLE in the conversion of unbelievers….. Romans 10:13-15 spells it out:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And HOW SHALL THEY BELIEVE IN HIM of whom they HAVE NOT HEARD? And how shall they hear WITHOUT A PREACHER? And how shall they preach, EXCEPT THEY BE SENT?”

My letter to him continued:

“While regeneration is clearly a work of the Holy Spirit, believers do have some responsibility in building bridges to unbelievers. We have to be SENT OUT of our comfort zone (inside the church) and MUST SHARE the good news with them. Otherwise, a great deal of the Bible is irrelevant.”

“I believe there will be more people in heaven because of churches like ours who hold to this type philosophy than there will be if we simply left it to chance or did nothing because we believed God has already predetermined the outcome.”

He quit.

There are some important lessons I have learned over the years:

  • I’ve learned that the stakes are too high for me to allow someone’s feelings to be the basis of my decisions

  • I’ve learned that the stakes are too high for me to compromise the mission of the church by shrinking back from having tough conversations

  • I’ve learned that the stakes are too high to place, (or leave), someone in a ministry role (staff or volunteer) that cannot execute with effectiveness

  • I’ve learned that the stakes are too high to entertain every suggestion that we turn this ship in another direction.

Church leaders will give account to God for how effective they were as leaders over God’s flock, (Hebrews 13:17b).

That’s more important to me than what people think.