Someone mentioned to me the other day that some people around town think Cedarbrook is "soft", meaning we don't confront people about lifestyle issues. I purposefully don't try to defend comments like these in my preaching but addressing the "soft" comment fit perfectly with my sermon on The Great Banquet on Sunday. It gave me the opportunity to explain that there is both method and theology behind my reticence to "take a stand" and condemn lifestyle issues publicly. Give it a read/listen to see if you agree.
There was a day when I would jump at the chance to "take a stand" for "righteousness". It felt so good to point out how others were doing it wrong (implying that I was doing it right). It compelled people to pat me on the back and thank me for "preaching the truth". And it drew a clear line in the sand, defining what a follower of Jesus truly looks like (and I love clarity vs. fuzziness). Plus it made me feel like "God's man"...you know, being willing to step up and say the unpopular thing - kind of a spiritually macho thing to do.
But over the years I feel like God has exposed some of the self serving attitudes in "taking a stand". Truthfully, I don't know what good it does. I'm not saying that there is never a place for it. There is. But often not the place where we think it is. Too often it only serves to puff up our pride and turn the target of our "stand" off. We only polarize ourselves more. How is that helpful in reaching the unchurched?
Sometimes the hardest thing (certainly for me), and the most righteous thing is to just keep our mouths shut. Now if your character flaw is that you are too wishy-washy, God might be speaking the exact opposite to you. You need to stand up for what you believe. But that's not my problem.
As for being soft, it's a compliment to me because twenty years ago (uh, and more recently than that!) I was accused of being harsh. I guess I've come a long way. I'm just thankful that Jesus' Spirit is the One who brings true conviction to our hearts and not self-righteous preachers.
The next three Sundays I'll be adding to what I said so I hope you'll join me in person or on-line.