Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Bug Bites and Condemning Preaching

In Star Wars, it was Obi-Wan Kenobi's constant criticism of his "young padawan," Anakin Skywalker. In a marriage, it's one spouse's ongoing nitpicking about the other spouse's faults. With a bug bite, it's scratching it, hoping it will make it feel better.

In church, it's condemning and judgmental preaching, thinking it will make the congregation live better lives for God.

Without thinking much about what the consequences will actually be, the presumed intended result of all this is a change for the better. But in the end, doesn't it really only make things far worse than whatever the original concern was? One word that might describe the end results is the word "fester."

Fester means "to cause ulceration, as a foreign body in the flesh," "to putrefy or rot," "to rankle" (to cause keen irritation or bitter resentment), "an ulcer; a rankling sore."

Several years ago my wife and I were out of town and we visited a church on a Sunday morning. It ended up not being the most pleasurable experience we've ever had. I thought the worse part of the morning had passed when the pastor shone the spotlight on us "visitors," asking us to stand up so everyone could see us. Don't visitors just love when that happens. ;)

Well, the subsequent sermon didn't help to make the morning any brighter.

The entire sermon was a lecture - perhaps I'd go a tiny bit far if I called it a tirade - against the people of the church for how poorly they were performing during their Sunday morning services! They lacked joy. They lacked enthusiasm. They lacked in their worshiping. They lacked in fervent zeal for the Lord. They lacked in this. They lacked in that.

Gee, I wonder why.

The pastor essentially put them through the wringer, chiding them with rhetorical questions such as, "Are you staying up too late on Saturday nights, so as to impair the quality of your worship on Sunday mornings?" Using my own words, I'd say the entire sermon could be summed up in, "COME ON PEOPLE, GET WITH IT!!!"

I really don't think I heard any good news at all that morning. The best news was that we didn't have to wait too long to get a table at the restaurant afterwards. My overall feeling was that this church had a massive bug bite, and the pastor seemed to think that sandpaper was the cure.

Anakin didn't seem to take too kindly to Ben Kenobi's incessant scrutiny. Can you say, "Darth Vader?" Spouses don't seem to respond well to their partner's put-downs. Can you say, "disaffection?" Bug bites initially feel better when they're scratched, but we all know the end result. Can you say, "fester?"

It's not that there's never a time for admonishment amongst the members of Christ's body. But really, how much need for that would there really be if the GOSPEL were actually preached in the first place?! Talk about prevention and a cure for any bug bite!
Isaiah 52:7
How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
"Your God reigns!"

Romans 10:15
How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace
Who bring glad tidings of good things!
How beautiful are the feet of those who give others something to be joyful about, something to be thankful for, something to actually celebrate!

1 comment:

  1. Good post ... I love the Anakin/Vader analogy (Star Wars fan here ;) ) ...

    Peace ...