2 Timothy 4:3 – “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.”
It’s so easy to take the high road and criticize churches that teach “uncomfortable” theology - the kind of theology that makes people realize that they are sinners in need of Christ. But I don’t want to go to a church to hear self-help/feel-good messages with shades of New Age Thought and philosophy.
But is it the “church” or is it the people who are at fault? The bottom line is that hurt people, hurt people and no one is immune.
I've been on both sides of the aisle criticizing the building and its people. I've come to realize that maybe - just maybe - it was ME. I know first-hand because my grandmother and her conservative church loved me to pieces! But they preached the gospel of Jesus Christ (John 3:16) with no strings and no desire to make you feel good about yourself. Instead they insisted that you were a sinner and you must repent because Jesus Christ died to atone for your sins once and for all! When you are not right with God, this hurts! It’s a very uncomfortable message! So you leave the church and act like they ruined your life when all they wanted to do is show you the way and the life! Call it failed communication.
But I couldn't repent because the Holy Spirit hadn't opened my eyes to receive the truth of Christ until many years later. Oh, I made many professions of faith and answered the call “to receive Jesus” as Evangelicals call it. But nothing happened! I don’t care how many feel-good, encouraging sermons I listened to (and even God's wrath sermons) or Bible studies I attended, nothing changed because God had a specific plan for me just as He has one for you. So, of course, I criticized the church and its tacky people because I wasn't right with God!
Romans 11:33 (NLT) Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!
Even when I came to repentance, it has taken the Holy Spirit years to get me to see how much of a sinner I am. The sanctification process continues.
So we can love people all we want, encourage them and make them feel good about themselves, but it takes sound doctrine and the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit (that has nothing to do with religion) to change hearts.
But most American people would rather attend a feel good Sunday worship experience that promotes their own self-love and disregards obedience to God.Theologian Albert Mohler says it best, “How can any sinner be saved, without a clear presentation of sin, redemption, the cross, the empty tomb, and the call to faith and repentance?”
And, honestly, the work of the Holy Spirit is convicting because we have much to learn throughout our human existence. There’s no way to only preach encouragement, self-love and inner-peace because that’s not God’s message to a sinner in need of salvation. Preaching the true Gospel of Christ isn't popular – pastors know this.
But it’s that Holy Spirit conviction that compels us to love and worship the Lord with holy abandon because we know he has done a beautiful work in our heart! He gives us true and lasting joy and not false personal happiness! I don’t want to go to church to hear a self-help message. It’s better to have a small church committed to teaching the truth of Christ than a wild bunch of thousands feeling good about themselves. I want to know and learn more about the God of the universe who saved me from myself! To God be the glory!