You’ll Take Heat for “Putting Your Feet in The Sand”

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Recently Lifeway bookstores, an affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention, pulled a magazine GospelToday from the shelves.  The reason?  The cover of the magazine featured female SBC pastors. The SBC pulled the magazine because the women featured on the magazine go against the SBC 2000 decree that only men can serve in the role of reverend or pastor.

 

CNN correspondent, Roland Martin, wrote about the story in a recent online article. In the article, Martin has a tone of chastisement towards the SBC and the bookstores. About halfway through the article it becomes clear where Martin’s motives are stemming from: Martin’s wife had a similar experience with the SBC:

Her crime? Calling herself the Rev. Jacquie Hood Martin…It wasn’t that she did so for the heck of it. She graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; was the first female staff pastor at Houston’s Brookhollow Baptist Church/the Church Without Walls, a Southern Baptist Convention church; and has been leading folks to the Lord all over the country for 20 years.

The SBC has put their feet in the sand and will not be pulled by the influences of a pluralistic society. And for that, we honor them. The SBC is unwilling to waiver from what they see revealed in the Scriptures. Gregg Harris has said before, “often times you don’t realize that you are in a current until you try to put your feet down.” Meaning, you will never feel resistance until you stand for something. We should be fearful if we never do anything or say anything that offends someone in the secular culture.

 

Martin isn’t judging the decision of Lifeway bookstores with biblical-theological principles. Rather, he is making his comments and his judgments from an emotional standpoint.

 

We cannot evaluate the commands of the Bible based on how it makes us feel. We are the ones that are fallen. We are the ones that have evil deceptive hearts. The Bible is the only place where we can see God’s perspective most clearly. That is, the biblical authors see the world with the keenest biblical-theological perspective. We need to learn to love the offense of the truth.

 

It’s a phenomenon discussed in relation to preaching. Too many pastors are afraid to preach the substance of the gospel. But whatever you use to bring non-believers in must be continued or they will leave. If you enticed people to attend your church on Sunday morning through great entertainment, promises of meeting felt-needs, or material prosperity, you will have a very difficult time “switching horses” on them. They did not come in the front door to learn from the Scriptures and worship God.  They were drawn by a good show, promises of success, personal fulfillment, and happiness.  If you expect to keep them coming, they expect you to keep giving them much of the same. 

 

This is the dilemma that many churches now face. So why do these preachers and pastors put themselves in this position?  Because these preachers and pastors do not believe that people will respond to the gospel unless it is presented in a winsome package that connects positively with their felt needs. 

 

D. A. Carson says it like this in The Gagging of God:

 

Evangelical preachers who increasingly reconstruct the “gospel” along the lines of felt needs, knowing that such a presentation will be far better appreciated than one that articulates truth with hard edges (i.e., that insists that certain contrary things are false), or that warns of the wrath to come.  How far can such reconstruction go before what is preached is no longer the gospel in any historical or biblical sense?

 

That means, preachers are afraid of what the gospel says so they attach things to it. They don’t warn of the wrath to come. We must preach the substance of the gospel. We need to love the offense of the truth. The truth hurts.

 

Example: When I am being selfish, I need my wife to tell me. I don’t like it, but I need to hear it. She can’t butter up what I really need to hear.

 

The gospel is not a message about how to get ahead in life, or how to find the key to happiness and success.  Paul stayed focused on what was true and essential and he would not be moved by the pressures around him. Preaching a crucified savior hurts. Telling someone that Jesus was killed because of them hurts.  The good news is grounded in the cross. The good news is that God crushed His Son because of your disbelief and your sin.

 

None of these things pander to our ego.  None of these things are something that we ever would want to hear. None of these things tell us how great we are. They tell us how great God is. They draw us to glorify and love Jesus.

 

We need to come to the text to see what God demands of His people. And then we need the obedience of faith to live out those commands.

 

Put your feet in the sand Timothys. Don’t be tossed to and fro by every wave of doctrine. Learn to defend and articulate the orthodox faith.

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4 Responses to “You’ll Take Heat for “Putting Your Feet in The Sand””

  1. Dorian Says:

    It’s kind of ironic that you here a lot of Christians these days decrying what they believe to be a “comfortable God.” They love to challenge people to “get out of their comfort zones.” But when you look closely at how some of these Christians react to the solid, hard edged, biblical truths of the Bible, you’ll say that they really, really don’t like hard truths.

  2. Matthew Cunningham Says:

    Good point Dorian. To your point about Christians challenging each other to “get out of their comfort zones,” I think what is generally meant is to be relational.

    As a former mega-church goer, the phrase was always used in the context of encouraging people to be part of the bagel team, or get into a small group, or join the worship team. This seems to stem from a post-modern ethos that often places importance in community over truth.

    I say this to point of that no one was being challenged to look to the text to Do Hard Things. Getting in relationship can be a hard thing for many, but God demands much much more of his creation.

  3. Bryce Says:

    My buddy and I were at a youth camp 2 years ago and one of the leaders started talking about “stretching ourselves as staff.” He then proceeded to have us push closer and closer in toward the center of this circle so that we were really close to each other and actually touching each other, something that was completely uncomfortable and awkward. Is this really what we are commanded to do as Christians? Is that the type of ministry described in the New Testament? I agree Matt, it seems that the phrases, “get out of your comfort zone” or, “stretch yourself” are always meant in a relational, smiling, be nice, kind of Christian love. It does seem to be completely relational. Good points Matt and Dorian.

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