A Message from Pastor Hale
Rage seems to be all the world has in its quest for justice. It is a cheap, unfruitful emotion that does not help anyone – especially the person suffering. Violence – shootings and also pointed, hateful words – are everywhere. Violent speech and actions come from raging, bitter hearts. To blame violence on our justice system is silly. We have a lack of people who want divine justice or think rules of any sort apply to them. Laws and people given to enforce them are not the real problem, it is hearts turned against God and the neighbor, living in the darkness of sin.
Rage says nothing productive and makes the person defended less useful than a child. Repent and believe the Gospel – God’s vengeance cannot be dismissed. “But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they repented and said, ‘As the Lord of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us’” (Zech. 1:6).
Worship: External and Internal
The acceptance of new and varied approaches to external worship is not the main problem, but it does show a real lack of grounding in Scripture. Many people assume worship styles (external things) are neutral and free (to God and man), and what we do corporately and externally doesn’t really matter, which leads to extreme uncritical thinking and disorder. But God’s Word does have something to say about how we treat our neighbor, especially when gathered together as a congregation around God’s Word. So even if God does not give many worship demands, Christian love cares for the weak and ignorant. But true love does not give in to every worldly spirit and new fad. We are to test the spirits and be critical of what may harm and disturb the weak and good order. Sinful human wishes are not the priority, even in things that are free to God. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:25).
Iron vs. Iron vs. Plastic
How much of the current clash of opponents – in every sphere, even the churchly – is simply due to the failure to take one’s one position and argument seriously. Therefore, we do not want to be challenged or tested. We think someone challenging our position is saying we are not right.
But iron does sharpen iron – though plastic does not sharpen iron (or pet ideas safeguarded in bubble wrap). To not consider or listen to a critique or differing vantage point is narrow-minded. Don’t get mad – make a better and more persuasive argument. Let God be your judge – don't try to win the moment right now.
The apostles were willing to meet pagans – and engage their errors – where they were, in order to bring them the precious Gospel – God's eternal truth. “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:16-17).