We met some great people at Fuge this past summer and one of them was our camp pastor, Nate. I learned this week that a local pastor here in Chattanooga in the next few weeks will be leaving to begin serving in his new role as senior pastor with Nate’s church in middle Tennessee. I also learned that this pastor had come under criticism by many over a specific sermon that he had given to his current congregation a year ago. When this kind of thing happens, I am typically one to want to hear the message in question for myself, compare it to Scripture, and then see if the criticism—and in some cases, hurt feelings—are valid at all (in many cases, when examined carefully, the Scriptures will refute the criticism). The same was true with this particular sermon. Though many were undoubtedly upset by what he had to say, he spoke truth, and he handled the Scriptures appropriately in the process.
Friends, there are multiple things to take away from messages/stories like this one. But I want to focus on two main points. One, if you are a follower of Jesus, you must be willing to be bold and not shy away from sharing the truth of Scripture. This is necessary if the Gospel of Christ is to be shared accurately and also if we are to be successful in making disciples. The other is this—don’t be so quick to be offended when a message (especially one that is backed by Biblical truth) may seem to call you out on some sin in your life. It is unpleasant, because our human nature does not like to be contended with, but if you and I both are Christians we owe it to one another to hold each other accountable for our sin. I need to be telling you when you’re doing something that is unhealthy for you and you need to be doing the same for me. That said, that does not mean that we are to be on constant watch for every possible wrong thing that the other may do. However, we do need to love each other enough to say, “Listen, I love you, and this isn’t good for you or your walk with Christ.” See the difference?
To close I would pose the following question: do we really have the right to be offended when confronted about our sin? You and I both, by nature, are sinful and we are anything but holy. Think about a completely righteous and unquestionably holy God, against Whom the sin is truly committed and Who is the only one with the authority to say what is sin and what isn’t. The only one who has any real rights for being offended when it comes to sin…is the Alpha and the Omega.
As you listen to the given sermon this Sunday and on Sundays to come, and you’re tempted to feel offended by what you hear, compare the words you hear to the light of Scripture. Also, be willing to dialog with the pastor if necessary about the message you hear. You’re more than likely to find that you have far less reason to be upset with anyone else than you might initially think.