When Do We Draw the Line?
I was travelling on a plane recently. I found myself sitting beside a man who wanted to make small talk. Soon enough, he asked what I did for a living? I told him that I pastored a church in Whitehorse. His eyebrows rose.
Throwing out the “P” word usually leads to one of two outcomes: (1) The conversation either ends immediately or (2) it takes a fascinating turn. This time the latter took place.
He began to share that he was the Alberta representative on the steering committee for one of the mainline Canadian churches (which shall remain nameless).
He continued to explain that in the coming months, he would be meeting with other representatives from across Canada to close down over a thousand churches.
“What?” I exclaimed!
“Yup,” he replied with a somber tone, “we’re moving from 3600 churches down to 2200. 1400 churches will be closing.“
He continued to explain that their congregations have been gradually aging, dying and shrinking, with no new life in years. As we continued our conversation, the reasons for the decline became very apparent.
Decades before that point this mainline church had made significant theological moves in how they viewed the Bible. Sadly, the powers that be stopped reading and teaching Scripture as a literal Message from God that has transformational power.
Instead it had become a metaphoric collection of wisdom and historic accounts that may help a follower to live a better life. Though they kept many traditional facets of church life, their leadership looked into the world for answers.
They sought to find popular beliefs, ideas and philosophies regarding God, science, justice, sexuality, etc. Then, they adjusted their teaching of Scripture to fit these popular opinions.
The thought was, that their churches would grow if they held and taught a more widely accepted and politically correct position.
The Media Championed Them
Over the years, the media would champion every move they made. But their churches did not grow. Even though the world communicated great appreciation for their position on hot button issues, people just didn’t show up for church on Sunday morning.
Their gamble to shy away from and eventually deny God’s Word as God’s Word has now cost them 1400 churches. And there is no end in sight for them, on how to prevent further decline.
I couldn’t help but wonder; how many Believers were led astray? How many church members were left in a state of doubt? How many missed opportunities to hear Scripture’s redemptive story that is the Gospel?
The Early Church
I’m reminded that the early church had similar problems. Paul and Timothy had to deal with church leaders who were being enticed by a set of popular philosophies and ideologies; that would eventually become what we now call, “Gnosticism“.
For these leaders, the acquiring of knowledge (regardless of its source) was becoming more important than Biblical truth. Church gatherings were filled with debates and arguments and quarrels, about popular new beliefs and ideas that tickled people’s ears.
Many Believers were being led astray and the church was going to suffer, unless these teachings and quarrels were stopped.
Taking a Stand
This week we’ll see that sometimes a line must be drawn. When the philosophies of the world start to get more airtime in our churches than Biblical truth, we must take a stand.
This week, through Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2, we’re going to learn,
- Why We Take a Stand
- Who Can Take a Stand
- How We Take Our Stand.
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