Laura Anne, one of our guest writers, writes this in response to Craig Hovey's post... I’ve said before that I love doing youth work because of all that I learn from it. Well, sometimes that’s true. But what I’ve been finding lately is that the young people pose questions that force me to pick up my bible. And what I’m read usually challenges me to throw out religion and open myself up to God. And when I do that, my pride is humbled, my ears are opened to what He has to say…and it’s not always what I want to hear.
I realise how much I focus on the parts of the bible that make me feel good, and brush the parts that don’t under the carpet of ‘well, that’s not relevant in the light of the New Testament and Jesus coming to earth and dying for our sins’.
Every week I meet with 2 women to study and pray together. At the moment we’re looking at the prophecies of Ezekiel. The devastation and destruction that resulted of years of the nation of Israel who was given guidance on the best way to live in the world and was asked to live it to show how God was a just and righteous God…doing the exact opposite…falsifying God’s Word to make it what they wanted to hear, acting in ways more wicked than the surrounding nations.
Even post-Jesus’ resurrection, do we not have the same things asked of us?
Paul wrote to Titus ‘We are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hop to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committeed to doing good deeds’. Titus 2: 12-14
And additionally he writes to Timothy
‘Preach the word of God. Be prepared whether the time is favourable or not…for a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching…they will reject the truth and chase after myths…don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord…fully carry out the ministry God has given you’ 2 Timothy 4:2-5 (if you look it up you can fill in the gaps!)
It’s pretty clear then that we are to be prepared to suffer for obeying God’s teachings. But isn’t He sovereign? Isn’t He the One who created this world we live in, and therefore doesn’t he know what is best in the long term for it?
Craig poses a very poignant question – Why are we not persecuted for our faith? Is it because western governments are benevolent or because the church has done such a good job at making the gospel culturally relevant that it’s compromised too much?
My question is this – has the western church become a production line for false prophets – speaking out what people want to hear, rather than what God asks us to speak and live out?