When I was growing up in a small town in the central part of Texas, it was natural for everyone to leave their front and back doors unlocked. Children could play outside well after dark. If something happened, neighbors would race to each other’s aid without even giving an extra moment of thought. Even when strangers came to town, we welcomed them with open arms. Churches were the center of the community and people worshiped God and brought their children into the congregations. Families would sit together in the pews while pastors preached the unvarnished Word of God. Life was simple in those days in a small Texas town.
As I write this message, I am saddened to see the modern world. Although this new time brings with it a lot of wonderful and amazing things, it also brings in other things that are less than desirable. People have become slaves to technology and have found it so easy to tear others apart using the wonders of the modern age. Instead of using technology for good, society has decided to use them for evil. It seems that many use it to destroy people with little thought or consideration. When I was younger, my parents taught me to say nothing if I had nothing good to say. But, that lesson has gone away.
Our lives have changed and, in some respects, not for the good, but for the bad. Darkness seems to be all around us and if pastors dare say anything about it, church leaders will often pull the pastors aside and tell them not to preach on sin or they will soon find themselves looking for another church. When I visited local churches, I found that the messages lacked inspiration or courage. Messages were kept short and more time spent on “feel good” music that was used to keep the attention of the younger members of the church. I talked with the older members of the churches and they all admitted to me that the churches that they used to know were a thing of the past. People prefer to listen to a message that is filled with fluff and doctored up junk.
In chapter four of his second letter to Timothy, Paul reminds the young preacher to stay true to the message. He tells him, “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.”
The Word of God and His message are meant to build us up as Christians. The message is the spiritual food we need daily to sustain us during the tough times and provide us with comfort and guidance as we walk daily with the Lord. It is not meant to be a myth or a story that leaves us with nothing substantial spiritually. The message is certainly not to preach some sort of prosperity gospel that does nothing but line the pockets of a few by fleecing the sheep who are entrusted to the shepherd. However, there are those who will go to those churches to hear that steady diet of empty words.
Why do they love to hear these words? Look at what Paul said to Timothy. Many prefer to follow their own desires and look for people to preach messages that indulge those desires. If they want to get rich and have God act like a holy vendor machine, they will find preachers who will give them exactly what they want. If they don’t want to feel bad about their lifestyle, they will find pastors who would happily provide a theology and message to fit their needs. But, is this right? Should people bend God to their will and desires?
The answer to those two questions is no. We cannot and should not bend God to our will and desires. When we do that, God is no longer the center or master of our lives. He serves us and gives us whatever we want. We become the center of our lives and God becomes nothing but a tool to get us what we want. I am here to tell you that there are pastors, elders and deacons of churches that will give you that message as long as you donate to their church. Members of those congregations reject the truth and chase after myths and desires. They have found someone to tell them it is alright to live that way. In some churches, certain sins are overlooked and a blind eye turned to lifestyles that don’t reflect spiritual purity and righteousness. In short, darkness abounds where light should be.
John, in chapter three of his Gospel, writes, “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
Think about the words of John. Some will fear the light only because it will expose their sins. No one likes to have his or her lifestyle questioned or called sinful. They would prefer to find a gospel that ignores the truth and preaches untruth. They will seek out others who prefer the same thing and then look for a church to bend to their desires. There are a couple of things I have observed over my many years of preaching.
The first is why even bother going to church when you still prefer the darkness? It is a waste of time to find a church that will give into your desires, but there are those who do. After talking with some of them, I came away with what they are looking for. They are looking for legitimization of their lifestyles. They want to have someone with authority condone their lifestyles and put their stamp of approval on them. When confronted with the truth, they quickly fall back to the “he said that it was fine” argument.
I am sorry to say that the “he said that it was fine” argument will not work on Judgment Day. You can’t rest your eternal life on such a flimsy argument. It would be like me telling you that it is absolutely fine to disobey the law, but, in the end, the law is the law. Unless some sort of special law gives me the ability to cancel all laws, you still have to obey whether or not I say that you have the right to disobey them. You will still face the consequences if you use my word. The same holds true when it comes to living a righteous life. You cannot simply stand before the Father and claim that someone told you that it was fine to do whatever.
I will tell you the truth and it is something you have to live daily. Live only in the light and shun darkness. Live a life of righteousness and don’t allow society to sway you from that life. Believe in the truth as it was given to you by God. His words will guide you along the path of righteousness. Do what God wants you to do. To obey God means that we disobey our natural earthly tendencies to live in darkness. When you follow Him and live a life in accordance with His son’s example, I can guarantee that you will stand firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.