Last night I read a story about Pastor Carl Lentz of Hillsong in which he was pinned down in an interview regarding his church’s position on a couple hot topics. His answers were not what I would have expected in that they seemed very evasive, to the point that it reminded me of someone campaigning for political office. I’m not going to dissect all that here, but I did find it interesting to see a Christian leader flounder so.
Here’s the problem. He was on a secular program and couldn’t give a straight answer when asked point blank. What kind of message does that portray to an unbelieving world? Now, before anyone gets all wonky on me, there are times when point-blank responses would be better seasoned with a little salt. Furthermore, I’m not suggesting that all of us need to know all the answers before we talk about Jesus. Hardly. These things should give us pause to reflect on what we would say when someone asks us tough questions.
1 Peter 3:15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;
This requires us to do some research in the pages of Scripture to find the answers to the most basic of questions. In fact, we may have to do a lot of research. I spent several weeks trying to answer this one: What about those who have never heard of Jesus? (For those reading who may be new, I included this discourse in the early posts of HisLightShines.com.) You may need to read a book or several online articles. You may need to watch or listen to sermons related to the topic. The answers are there; it’s a matter of finding them.
The problem is determining who you go to for answers. We can’t necessarily pick the top two Google searches. Why? Because there are lots of people who have answers. If we look at the state of the world, we can see that the court of public opinion isn’t always the best place to look. I think it is wise to remember that Jesus was never soft on sin. He was big on repentance and forgiveness, but never soft or accepting of sin. In fact, when pressed, he upped the ante.
Matthew 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Matthew 5:29-30 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
Jesus takes sin very seriously and never backs down. Repentance and forgiveness? Again, he is merciful beyond measure. He is also firm in the same way with regards to Scripture.
Matthew 5:17-20 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Let’s not start thinking ‘least in the kingdom’ is a good thing in this passage. My point in this whole thing is that Jesus didn’t back down on anything so that he could appease the crowd who was pressing him. In fact, he ended up alone and abandoned. So, I’ll let you decide for yourselves regarding Pastor Lentz. I’ll pray that he stumbles on to these verses from the Sermon on the Mount and be greatly convicted by the Holy Spirit. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16). None of us should be.
Father, please press into our pastors. Encourage them to be brave and fearless when proclaiming the gospel. Let them season it with salt, when appropriate, and deliver it full-force when needed. Also, we know that some are simply wolves in sheep’s clothing. Protect us from them. Root them out and expose their true nature. Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers