More Than Authenticity

God desires more than authenticity. God desires worship that is right.

I recently read through Leviticus, and while it isn’t the most exciting reading in Scripture (and certainly isn’t as quotable as Paul’s writing), I was continually humbled by the details God provided for Israel’s worship. The sacrifices were taken very seriously. If the priest offered them in any way other than the prescribed way, the offering would not be acceptable to God. In some cases, the priests themselves were immediately judged by God for their casual approach to the sacrifices (here’s looking at you, Nadab and Abihu).

In a world of phonies, it’s easy to affirm the important of authenticity. The problem isn’t that authenticity is bad, but that we are often authentically wrong.

We must resist the urge to say that worship styles that are different from our own preferences is wrong, but we must equally resist the spirit of the day which affirms every worship style which is authentic.

Love Enough to Rebuke

“One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith…” (Titus 1:12-13)

Rebuke isn’t a word we use often today. It sounds… well… harsh, cold, unloving, and intolerant. While we do not want those above adjectives to describe us as people or as a church, there should be a time and place for rebuke in the church.

What is a “Rebuke?”
The Greek word which is here translated as “rebuke” literally means, “reprove, convict, rebuke.” To rebuke is to correct, to warn, to say clearly and specifically, “No, this is not true or right.”

How Should We Rebuke
And Titus is instructed to do this “sharply” or “strongly.” Not with kid-gloves, not in a wishy-washy kind of way. Rebuke must be clear, firm, and with the goal of sound faith. There must not be harshness on a personal level, but rather, we ought to come as a concerned brother or sister warning another brother or sister that they are in danger because of ________ (insert rebuke here).

If we are not prepared to clearly explain what is wrong, why it is biblically wrong, and what it should be biblically replaced with… then we are not ready to rebuke. Instead, we should do our homework, spend time in prayer over the matter (and especially for the person to receive the rebuke as a firm but loving warning rather than as a judgmental “I’m right, you’re wrong, be more like me!”).

When Should We Rebuke
I suspect that many today are opposed to rebuking because they’ve seen others rebuked (or been rebuked themselves!) over something that they really shouldn’t have been rebuked for. We should not rebuke people for conscience-issues, but only over issues of clear biblical teaching. This includes lifestyle issues that are consistently warned against in Scripture and foundational biblical truths/doctrines.

We should also use wisdom in discerning what is most important: If someone curses on occasion but believes that “good people” who aren’t Christians will still be saved. That person doesn’t need to be rebuked for having a potty-mouth. He needs to be rebuked for believing in an unbiblical Gospel. Keep the main thing the main thing.

The Goal: Soundness in the Faith
The goal is sound faith. What you believe matters. How you live matters. Authenticity matters too, but you can be authentically wrong. The great lie that so many are buying today is that God values sincerity above holiness. That’s just not true. There is nothing God values more highly than holiness. God’s love for holiness and his love for people is what drives the Gospel message.

Think about the difference between a bell that rings loud and clear, and a bell that thuds when it’s struck. Faith that is not firmly grounded in Scripture is a thud.

Love Enough to Rebuke
People today don’t need a soft church, and a cheap Gospel cannot save anyone (and, in fact, is not the Gospel at all!). If the Gospel doesn’t call for your whole life, then it can’t give you new life. Jesus wants your life… heart, soul, mind, and strength (see the Great Commandment).

If we refuse to rebuke people because we want to “love them into the truth” then the chances are… our silence will unlovingly give them over to lies.

Can God Out-Vote You?

We all want to rule our lives and call our own shots. It’s just reality. This is where our trouble with God comes in… Because we grasp for the authority that only He should have.

The question we each need to ask, especially we who call ourselves Christians, is this: Can God out-vote me?

When my opinion differs from God’s Word (yes, I’m assuming you believe the Bible to be the Word of God, trying to prove that is subject for another post), will I stand corrected, or will I bend Scripture to my opinion?

We can bend a Scripture to our own wills in a few ways:

  1. Simply ignore that passage in favor of other passages we like more. This isn’t always intentional, but it happens when we only read portions of Scripture we like and avoid the parts we don’t. It also happens when we only read the New Testament and ignore the Old.
  2. Claim the verse only referred to people in that culture but doesn’t apply today. Sometimes this is actually the case, but be careful about jumping to this conclusion before taking the passage seriously and doing your homework.
  3. We simply assume that our opinions are biblical, and therefore don’t need to actually read it. Maybe you grew up in church, so you think you know “enough Bible” to get by, but that’s just it… the Christian life ought to be about treasuring and honoring God our Savior… not just “getting by.” Often, this mentality reflects a misinformed faith, and leads people to think they are spiritually “fine” when they aren’t (let Jesus’ words here be your warning).

I suspect that most American Christians fall into the third category. National polls have shown that although most Americans consider themselves Christians (see here and here), very few actually read the Bible despite affirming their belief that it is the Word of God (check this out), and only 9% have a “biblical worldview” on a theological and a variety of lifestyle issues (see here).

This tells me that although many people believe the Bible is the Word of God, they simply assume that they understand it well enough to say “My opinion is the Bible’s opinion.” This is a position which is increasingly difficult to hold, especially as sexuality continues to hold front-stage in national debates.

Who Holds Veto Power?
So… When it comes to discerning right from wrong… Can God overrule you? Can He out-vote you? Or do you hold veto power?

How you answer that question reveals who really has authority in your life. And there’s no such thing as a Christian who serves himself first. The call to follow Christ is a call to put yourself aside.