by Vicki GRECH
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After listening to a Sermon in a series called - “real life” at a church in South Australia I noticed something was amiss. I struggled for a while, and then it dawned on me, what was missing. What I noticed was a Sermon that only highlighted one aspect of Jesus Teachings with regard to “loving thy neighbor”.
Unless you are a regular church-goer, the message of this Sermon as it was delivered is totally misleading. The Sermon was certainly unbalanced, we hear the positives of Jesus Teachings, but we do not here the negative or the “contrasting“ wisdom. Needless to say, the “contrasting” and wise teaching I am sure would come at some time later, however, would the “occasional” church-goer get to ever hear it?
Now, let us suppose, I am in the church listening to this Sermon all about - “how I should love my neighbor”, assuming “no matter what”! Given the content and detail of the Sermon at no point did it mention or demonstrate any “boundary” on this teaching.
For example - I listen to this Sermon, I go home feeling good. I don’t go back to Church again for say a month or so. During that month I become aware of my neighbor abusing my new-found knowledge of what pleases God. Where is the “boundary” of this Christian Teaching by way of church Sermons being delivered. In other words, just how does this “want-to-be” good Christian deal with this issue? Obviously, he or she will allow themselves to be used and abused given what the Preacher has said in his or her Sermon!
As an educator in the area of trying to teach people about human spirituality based on the Word of God, I see this type of Sermon totally misleading. A method of teaching that is not only irresponsible but also unethical. The Bible does no doubt teach also that we are not to allow ourselves to fall into the hands of evil. We must guard ourselves against the “evil one”. Is it not evil to use and abuse others, taking advantage of their Christian morality and ethics? Thus, I reason that if we continue to “love thy neighbor” we are in-fact associating ourselves with the very evil God wants to protect us from (given this case scenario).
I am not a Preacher by any standards, however, I have studied God’s Word for some time now and recently enrolled in a Bible Study Ministry Course. It is through this Course I am realizing what is severely lacking in church content and may be the reason why people refrain from visiting God’s House, including myself. I do not want to stay away from church, I would like to go to church. However, I do not want to go to church and hear a one-sided story (misleading), of how I should live either. Having to sit through a Sermon, that fails to be delivered in it’s entirety is nothing short of a frustrating experience.
It seems Pastors, Ministers, Scripture Teachers and the like, would prefer to teach of the positives of life and totally omit the negatives! Whether they like it or not, the fact is, life is all about “balance”. There cannot be a life without “boundaries”, even for a Christian! Jesus expects no Christian to submit themselves into the hands of the evil one. A loving God who sent His only Son to teach by example, tell us the "Good News" and then die for us, did not do so to see His Children be consumed by evil!
Even Jesus demonstrated His “boundaries” of Christian life when He overturned tables in the market place in front of the Church. He was furious to find His Father’s House being used for profit-making ventures! Hence, the perfect Son of God shows us clearly we are to have “boundaries” in our lives. Jesus certainly was not demonstrating His love for His neighbor in this instance! These boundaries on God’s Word and Jesus Teachings are designed to help protect us from evil!
It is my belief, through personal experience as a Christian, that we must learn where they (the boundaries) are, how to install them and to guard them tirelessly.
As a Christian writer, I do not feel in many cases the need to quote Scripture as such. Let’s face it folks, almost every western Christian knows of Jesus and the basic ethical teachings of Christian life. However, what it appears the church has failed to deliver is the Words from the Bible in their entirety "per Sermon session". In doing so have failed to teach their flock about “boundaries and balance” in every lesson (Sermon). The very tool every Christian needs in protecting themselves against Satan.
There is an old saying that is quite common and it goes something like this - “too much caution is as dangerous as too little”. The same principle applies to the “balance” of Scripture. If Sermons are not delivered in truth and balance in one session of each of the contrasting or balanced contents, they are largely falsely represented. The Bible I do not believe teaches only the positive, Jesus good teachings, it also teaches of the negative, evil, Satan’s work.
To deliver only the positive in any Sermon is to rob a person of the truth in it’s entirety as it should be taught. A Sermon must be delivered in a truth-full manner and maintain “balance” throughout at each instance as God‘s Words do. Thus the person who may not return to church for a month or so has not walked away with a false sense of Christian reality.
To teach anyone only one-side of any story is not acceptable and nor should it be tolerated. I believe it is time for the church, it’s Preachers, Scripture Teachers etc., to accept ownership and responsibility for delivering God’s Words from the Bible in totality. Not splitting them (God’s Word and Jesus Teachings), apart and delivering only the positive, (a portion), thus teaching unbalanced Christian viewpoints and ethics.
It is easy to see now why State run schools are opting for “tossing out” Scripture Teaching. Perhaps they have also identified an area severely lacking in “balance, sequence and scope” with regard to teaching responsibly and effectively in a holistic approach.
We do not nor should not have to - “hurt to be healed” through having to endure evil. I believe had the church accepted the responsibility of teaching in context and entirety, many Christians, especially in today’s world would not fall such easy prey to evil and Satan’s work. Especially in the area of New Age philosophy, and in essence, in the title alone, we can see a Biblical Revelation - NEW AGE.
It is great to - “love others as we do ourselves”, but hey! Let‘s do a “reality check“, and teach God’s Word truth-fully without any omissions, and/or alterations. As anyone knows a positive without a negative is a person without “charge”. That “charge” (power), of being able to be the good and powerful Christian through God‘s Word. God gave His Word to people through the Bible to “learn” with. To learn to be “good, to learn how to “combat evil”. This was done through delivering the "Good News", that covered every aspect (including evil), of "how to live well". Jesus taught and trained people how to "combat evil" as much as He taught them how to be humble. It is through "humility" we learn, not through "abuse".
Sadly, it appears the church has failed miserably in teaching God’s Children how to “live well” according to God’s Word. Rather, they (church teachers of God’s Word), deliver the “good” Christian into the hands of evil as they have not trained them in God’s Word fully. They are left “unarmed”, as they have only been taught the positive. A totally “unbalanced” and “unethical” approach to teaching. Life is all about “balance”, and in order to live balanced lives as Christians we must be taught “how” to combat evil as much as we are to do "good works" in God's Name. This is not done by allowing ourselves to be used and abused and subsequently to fall victim to Satan and his evil through being over-Christianized.
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