Archive for May 28, 2019

Today a friend of mine posted an article about a pastor in Zimbabwe who was arrested for selling his parishioners tickets to heaven for $500 each. Evidently the tickets allowed the holders to bypass judgment and assured them a place in heaven. Needless to say there is so much wrong with this story that it would be laughable if it wasn’t so wrong. My friend posted this article with one word of comment. “Creativity…” I cringed.

My response was “I’m a fan of creativity… It’s the first thing we learn about God… This is not creativity.” I may have been hasty. There is certainly an element of creativity here. If the assignment is “Find a way to fleece people who trust you, in a way that will make them never trust God again.” then I suppose this was a creative solution, but, of course, this is a massive misuse of creativity.

That’s when it hit me. Creativity, especially Christian creativity, needs boundaries. Now I know as a creative you might want to kick against this. We artistic types often do not like boundaries. I have a post upcoming soon that talks about enjoying creating creatures because the possibilities are endless and there is truth to that, but when it comes to creativity in the church there are boundaries, and those boundaries are for our good. The primary boundary is the Word of God. In my opening example, the Scripture would have reigned that in very quickly, as the Scripture teaches over and over again that the gifts of God are not for sale and that no one misses out on judgment, though admittedly that judgment is for different reasons. Further, wealth is not often seen as a blessing in Scripture. Remember the camel passing through the eye of a needle and that we cannot serve both God and money, the rich young ruler and on and on. As a matter of fact money is such a difficult thing for people to handle properly that Jesus talks more about it than He does about things like heaven or hell. But it’s not just money.

Scripture sets boundaries on subject matter, content, morality, and on and on and on. Basically it comes down to these questions: will God be glorified by what I’m about to do and will He be praised? These boundaries will keep us, not just on the right side of God, which is primary, but will allow us to live with a clear conscience before our fellow man. If we are going o glorify God, how the people around us, those we are glorifying Him to, need to see us living above reproach. Boundaries allow this to happen.

For a guy who wants to spend most of his time as an encourager, I sure spend a lot of time in a cycle of discouragement. Day after day I see people who claim to be people of faith denying what I believe to be basic truths of Scripture. I literally find myself incredulous that there is this much disagreement over things that sure look black and white to me. This leaves me torn.

A few years ago I was going through a struggle. I had a major health scare, and it shook me to the core. I ended up seeing a therapist for a few weeks, and one of the things she really introduced to me was the fight or flight response. Namely in the midst of a struggle we feel faced with two options, to fight or to run. That probably best sums up what is on my heart. When faced with what I see as clearly false teachings, I wonder do I fight or do I flee? Oh I don’t mean run from the church, but I wonder if it’s time to run from the argument. Do I fight to rescue the false teachers and or the people in their care, or do I leave them to their own devices and focus on the people who are receptive to the faith as I understand it? This is harder than you might think. You see I really love and care about the people with whom I disagree. I’m just not sure what is lost if I spend all my time focused on controversy. If I stay in the controversy, am I just adding to the noise? At what point do I shake the dust off my feet? How many of my true mission field will be turned off by the continual debate? At what point does this all become those foolish arguments Paul warns us to have nothing to do with in 2 Timothy 2:23? Does the fight really do anything at all to advance the Gospel or am I just fanning the flames while the world burns?

At the end of the day, here’s what I know. Jesus is still this world’s only hope. I have been welcomed into many places with divergent viewpoints because I always lead with Jesus. So while I may still be torn, fight or flight? I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know this: “…I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16) This is where I place my trust. This is the rock on which I stand.