Letting God in

Last week a guy got upset about my sermon and said he’s never coming back to my church again because the message was too liberal (I made “liberal” fun of things both liberal and conservative in that message.) This morning I found out that a new couple had attended my church, and one of them thought the sermon was refreshing and brilliant, while the other one thought it was heresy. (Awkward car ride home.) Another couple was in church this morning who didn’t appear to appreciate what I was saying as I was preaching, and they left afterwards with a brisk goodbye.

I used to lose sleep over things like this. I would obsess about it for days, wondering what I had said that had upset people so much. I don’t do that anymore. To quote Rachel Held Evans,

I haven’t lost hope in the future of evangelicalism, but I’ve lost the desire to fight for my place in it.

[By the way, anyone who enjoys my blog will probably enjoy Rachel’s very much as well. I highly recommend it.]

So people can call me what they want — too conservative, too liberal, not political enough, too political, whatever. I don’t serve a political agenda. My job is to call people onto God’s agenda for the redemption of this world. I will continue to do this faithfully and let the chips fall where they may. I invite all people who are interested in learning how to experience God moment by moment to give us a try. Those who will sit there during the sermon looking through their Bibles to find verses to oppose what I am saying will surely find plenty. Those looking to apply terms like conservative and liberal will hear statements that they can reduce to sound bytes and argue over. And Jesus will continue to stand at the door and knock. All I care about anymore is learning how to let him in.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. A request for me to defend some of my comments does not obligate me to do so.

  • Irma

    Yep, I agree. He’s knocking, he’s guiding (or attempting to) and I wonder how often we are missing it, because we are so busy maintaining our stance on our agenda, while we are oblivious to the hurting around us.

    • Hmmm…well, if the gospels have any perspective on it (and I assume they do!) then this must happen very, very often. Thanks for reading and commenting, Irma.

  • “Those who will sit there during the sermon looking through their Bibles to find verses to oppose what I am saying will surely find plenty.”

    Doesn’t it concern you at all that there may be verses which oppose what you are saying?

    • Not really. This is the nature of sacred literature. Put together any sermon on any topic at all and I will be able to find scripture to say the opposite of what you are trying to demonstrate. This is why Biblicism is dangerous and an adventure in missing the point. For me the question is not whether an airtight case can be made about something, as this misses the point of scripture to begin with. The question is whether a plausible case can be made based on precedent as we see it in various streams of historic Christian thought. Calvin and Wesley both made plausible cases. That’s where disagreement comes from and it’s the kind of disagreement that I think, by and large, is a waste of time. Plausibility of course isn’t sufficient as a means of interpretation. One can build a plausible case that slavery is Biblical — a very powerful one. So it’s about what is plausible and where God seems to be taking us at this moment in history. The fact that a solid Biblical case can be made for slavery is precisely why I don’t get too worried when people can find scriptures to refute what I am saying.

      • Certainly. You don’t need sacred literature for this – take any book and you can find a sentence or statement to use for contradiction.
        I’m currently working towards a degree in Systematic Theology and one of the first things we covered was understanding what the Bible has to say as a whole. In fact the study of Systematic Theology is really just learning what the whole Bible has to say about any given subject. This involves collecting and understanding all the relevant passages in the Bible on various topics and then summarizing their teachings clearly so that we know what to believe about each topic.

        Are you concerned at all that these opposing statements may be part of a larger opposing message?
        I’m concerned that your rejection of Biblicism may be more dangerous than someones hold to it.

        • I spent my entire life as a Biblicist, up until about two years ago. I am about as familiar with that as a person can get. Have you yet read the books I recommended to you on the topic?

          The Bible Made Impossible, by Smith
          The End of Evangelicalism, by Fitch

          If not check them out, then email me and we’ll have this conversation.

        • Just ordered The Bible Made Impossible from Amazon. Should have it in a few days.

  • It was probably a very challenging and eye-opening sermon. If we can’t face truth because it makes us uncomfortable, then I think we best do a self-evaluation about what we really, truly believe.

    • I hope it was both of those things, Gina. And I agree with you.