"Jesus, teach me what I want to hear!" seems to be what many previously faithful Christian leaders and denominations currently ask of God - if the resolutions enacted at some recent church conventions are any indication.
The most recent "mainline" church body to follow this trend was The Presbyterian Church USA. At their general assembly in late June, the delegates voted to ask each presbytery to amend the church's constitution to delete a "Fidelity and Chastity" standard for clergy, adding language that would make the standard for ordination simply one of being guided by "a sincere effort to obey one's personal interpretation of scripture." According to their web site, this action has pained the members of Presbyterians for Renewal, a group that seeks to enable "congregations to faithfully proclaim and live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ." It should similarly pain all who recognize Jesus - and not ourselves - as the head of the church.
This action came at a time when scripture lessons in the lectionary indicated that Jesus taught us what we need to hear and not necessarily want to hear! Jesus said, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:31-32)
And, Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians wrote, "Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh. . . . Now the works of the flesh are obvious:
fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (5:16-21)
We might want to "close the book" to these teachings and live by our own rules. And many people do set the Bible aside. But that is done with peril, for in Ezekiel 2 God stated, "Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them."
Whether or not we actually heed God's Word and continue in it, we know that the Word has been, is and will be here among us and cannot be ignored forever. That Word is readily available for study, guidance and reproof.
Pray for the WordAlone Network and for the Presbyterians for Renewal as all work to keep the Church founded on God's Word Alone!
Phillip Wold is a WordAlone board member in Mankato, Minn.