Better Than Nothing

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How many times have we heard it said, “Well…it’s better than nothing”.  Probably more times than we notice or even could count.  In essence, what people are really trying to say is that even though it’s not perfect, there is still some value to take away.

It seems as Americans, we are programmed to be eternal optimists when it comes to, well, everything.  Things are going pretty well, the future is bright.  Things are going okay, nothing to complain about.  Things falling apart, let’s pick ourselves up and keep fighting.  Nothing is too difficult or too overwhelming, but there is always something positive to focus on.

This optimism, drive, and hard work has been foundational in our lives.  At the core, it has kept us hopeful and not defeated.  But it has also given rise to a false sense of reality and blinded us from evaluating things properly.  And especially when it comes to anything being “Christian”.

In churches, it seems that almost anything goes in today’s world.  So far as anything from one’s personal beliefs about God and dealing with sin to everything else in between.  Just as long as we give people room to grow as they continue on their “journey” in finding the Lord.

So when it comes to raising concerns, discerning whether things are biblical or not, or even simply challenging the status quo, it is often met with a resounding, “Well…it’s better than nothing” type response.  Most people are more than content to simply accept what is presented as “truth” so long as they have felt it is positive and encouraging.

If the church, pastor, or whoever is giving a message of hope to others, is helping people with their “felt-needs”, and can throw out some seemingly biblical advice, then really, “Who are we to judge”??  “I mean look, the church or ministry is growing, so they must be doing something right.”  “And look at the impact they are having in the community, they are being ‘Jesus with flesh on’.”  How many times have we heard things similar to these??

There are so many examples I can throw out that people use to justify that what they believe or what they participate in is “good”.  And much of the defense is based upon that none of us live or believe 100% correct and no church or ministry is perfect.  But is that really a reason to make excuses just because we think that something is simply better than nothing??

No wonder there is great confusion among people and in churches about true Biblical faith.  When everything is seen as “good” rather than being truly Biblical, then really anything goes.  Not everything is good and not everything is beneficial.  It is true that none of us believe or act in complete accordance with Scripture all the time.  It is true that no church or ministry operates exactly as the Lord desires at all times.  But to think that just because someone invokes the name of the Lord, throws out some verses, or that it is “Christian”, is better than nothing, is hog-wash.  We must not succumb to the notion that as long as it is “Christian”, we should close our hearts and minds to using good discernment.

Shouldn’t we strive for and expect the best things can be??  Wouldn’t the Lord want us to strive for repentance, holiness, perfection, and especially the Truth in all we believe, say, and do??  And shouldn’t this cause us to be far more careful that not everything we hear, believe, or do is really good for us??

I’m not trying to be such a downer, but rather I think a call to regain perspective is much needed and long overdue.  People are often so afraid that others will think they are too critical and judgmental that it paralyzes most and so they end up being unable to call things for what they truly are.  People think that as soon as they raise some red flags or venture to question the church, pastor, or anyone or anything, they have overstepped our bounds.  All for the sake of, “they know better” or that they have studied more.  Really??

Maybe we have become so desensitized that we are more afraid of what others think than standing for Truth and being realists that can clearly evaluate if something is actually destructive and really is not better than nothing.  Some things, and probably a lot of things, are actually worse for us.  They can drive us further from the Lord and what is Biblical.  So just going to church, a conference, a retreat, reading a book, passing on the quote of the day, or many other things can actually do us more harm in becoming more Christlike than what we can even benefit from these things.

One area that has taken one of the biggest hits is our youth.  Youth groups, retreats, camps, conferences, “mission trips”, and the others things our churches have dreamt up haven’t, in large part, trained up the youth to become fully devoted followers of the Lord.  Parents have also bought into the lie that in sending their kids to these “Christian” activities, they are being taught real faith in Jesus.  But again, just because they are part of a church or ministry that says they believe in Jesus in no way means that it is good, beneficial, or even better they are a part of it than if they were not.

Many things can have the appearance of being Christian, but are far from it.  We have lost such a sense of discernment that hardly anyone is challenging what is presented as being Truth.  And those that do are often seen as causing divisions and are mistaken as the enemy.  They are the ones who are often looking out for the false teachers, false teachings, and those things that are cleverly wrapped up to look Christian, but in actuality are unbiblical and lead to destruction.

This doesn’t mean, however, that if something isn’t perfect that we can’t be a part of it.  But we must be much more careful learning about, searching through, and seeing what churches, ministries, and people are about before we join in.  And even then, we must continue to keep watching and discerning that we might not get swept into clever and deceptive teaching.  We must not be so quick to endorse, pass on, “like” on Facebook, “retweet” on Twitter, or whatever is the trend of the day.

We must not just accept the mentality that what we believe or do is better than nothing.  Accepting mediocrity has eternal consequences that can lead us into destructive heresy if we are not careful.  It’s not just a matter of no one or nothing being perfect, but of what we are pursuing.  It’s not just a matter of differences of opinion or methodology, but rather growing in true faith and obedience according to Scripture.

Let us walk boldly and confidently in the Truth of God’s Word and be on guard against the idea that just because things seem good are often not better than nothing.