22 Aug Not Wrong Yet Not Right Either
Good morning everyone. You know I grew up in church. One of the things I find potentially disturbing is that when I see people in church not doing wrong, but they’re not doing right either. Take for instance, it is easy to see people avoiding grave sins, fulfilling their Christians obligations as Sunday churchgoers, but they’re not really interested in staying back in church, encouraging one another, enjoying the communion of Saints and so on.
And honestly, I always struggle with preachers who preach a message that is not wrong (meaning to say: doctrinally sound), but it is not a message that cuts to the hearts of people and getting them to renew their life thoroughly. With that, you will slowly see people getting lukewarm about God. Before long, people will just be fulfilling their Christian obligations without true Christian convictions. Carrying the cross, going the extra mile to love, to care, to painstakingly walk the sinners out of their sins will no longer be the concern of most people. Instead most Christians will end up just wanting to come church to be happy. They will want church life to be fun and enjoyable, and this is where the church leaders will slowly relent and fill their church with programs and activities to excite. And honestly, it is not surprising now for believers to feel reluctant going back to physical church gathering, even when they’re allowed to. Why? Because with the pandemic, the church is now stripped naked of its glamour, glittering lights and emotion stirring music. What is only left now is the gospel, which if it’s not being proclaimed, the sheep of God will remain lost, poor and naked.
Now, how did this happen you ask? Because in all these years of peaceful and prospering times for the church, we have settled for what is not wrong, yet it’s not right either. We have accustomed ourselves to fulfilling Christian obligations without convictions.
Now, if there is one thing that the pandemic has done us Christians anything good, I would say it has critically taught us something very paradoxical. i.e. what is not wrong doesn’t mean it’s right. You see, we are constantly being persuaded – “Don’t do wrong. Don’t break the law of social distancing, don’t be socially irresponsible, we have to do things that are morally, ethically and socially accepted as a Christian”, but may I ask what is the true concern of God? Are we really taking care of the sheep of God? Are we responsible as a shepherd, as a church leader, or as a fellow Christian? Do we encourage one another to live by faith instead of just following scientific guidelines? Do we encourage each other to be God abiders rather than law abiders? I think in this pandemic, God is looking out for people who do the right thing, instead of just avoiding the wrong things. Well, I know it’s not easy, but we must keep praying to be led by the Spirit.
Now, as you may know, we’re a church first hit by the coronavirus in Singapore. By right we should be really afraid of physical gathering. But as soon as we’re allowed to gather, we started gathering. We dine in small groups of five to encourage one another. Well, some may say this is socially irresponsible, we should have waited for the vaccines, or at least wait for the whole situation to simmer down. Now, we’re not testing the threshold on purpose, but as it is, the sheep of God needs it, they yearn for it! They gather in faith and joy, so who are we to place judgment? How is your fear gonna dictate someone’s else faith? But it’s surprising that Christians who are used to living with obligations without true convictions are showing their true beliefs. They don’t understand spiritual needs, they only understood societal acceptance and ethical code of conducts.
Now, let me point you to what the Lord Himself has taught all believers. Should we turn to <Mat 16:21-23>.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Now, do you realize that one of the hardest thing we face in life is to speak against the spirit of men? Especially when we know that some people have their sets of ideals, or their way of thinking which is so persistent. And here presumably the disciples didn’t thought Jesus had to die to reign as King.
You see, my brethren, as with the human nature, we always miss the cross. In our pursuit of victory, we always want to avoid the way of submission. But Jesus spoke against that kind of spirit, that kind of thinking, which is now so prevalent in the disciples’ heart now.
But look at what happen next.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Now, that was quite a stunning rebuke, but I guess it was needed.
Now, let’s ask the question, is there anything wrong with what Peter has so passionately reprimanded Jesus about? “No, this should not happen to you Lord. Don’t even think about it?” No, there’s nothing wrong morally or ethnically. I mean Peter was telling Jesus how can you let yourself be killed? And obviously, there is nothing wrong humanely. I mean it’s not humane to let a kind man die such a terrible death, isn’t it? And there is definitely nothing wrong relationally. We know Peter loves Jesus, as his teacher, as his closest friend, and out of love, he doesn’t want Jesus to suffer such a tragic death. So whichever way, it just doesn’t make sense to Peter. He seems to hit all the right note in his reprimanding of Jesus. Yet, Jesus said something that is most offensive: “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me!” Now, “Satan”, who insinuated Peter’s mind, was mentioned here. And what is Satan most famous for? He is the most evil and subtle one who uplifts every concerns of men. He gives weight to all human ethics, morals, values, laws, love and relationships, such that there is nothing in the human senses that can oppose it. But the only thing that he purposely missed out is the concern of God. So Satan can cause you to think and feel right in the human sense, yet you can just miss the very things of God in the midst of it.
So my brethren, think about this pandemic. It’s a great opportunity for you to be critically challenged about what you have so strongly hold on to. Some says: “Hey, let’s not gather physically, it’s dangerous”. Some might say: “Hey, let’s be law abiders”. Some might even say: “Hey, let’s meet through Zoom will do. I’m staying with my old parents. I don’t want to endanger them”. Well, those views are not wrong. I can’t fault you. But you may not be right either, at least in the eyes of God. My brethren, before you’re so sure about what you believe in, ask yourself carefully, “what is the concern of God? What do you think God is most concern about right now?” I wouldn’t want to end up being right before all men, yet wrong before God. That earns me nothing.