Do you ever wonder why pastors and professing Christians have a great need to say really obscure things to sound spiritual?? Even though we can sometimes figure out what people are saying when they use these words and phrases, when you take a step back and look at what people are really saying, it is really quite bizarre. Why the need to always try to be relevant, “nuanced”, or say such abstract things.
Incarnational, Missional, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Discipline, Social Justice, Speaking Prophetically, Beauty, Sacramental, Sacred, Speaking Life, Spiritual Rhythms, Journey, and Presence are just a very few of the trendy phrases of the day. They are merely crafty formulations by people to describe some idea or topic. But get this, even though many try to define these things as being Biblical, the concepts are actually often far from it.
I often hear about how absurd things like these are from other believers. Instead of trying to have some “deep” meaning, why not just be clear and teach what the Bible actually says?? No need for some clever term or catch phrase; just explain the Word from the text. I guess that doesn’t sell books, provide invitations to speak at conferences, grow churches, or get the most followers. But I digress.
As believers we should expect so much more from those who are leading us in the Lord.
Let’s be clear. Just because someone may be a good wordsmith, can speak in a way that may connect with people, and can even sound Biblical, doesn’t mean they are to be admired. They may even say some Biblical things at times, but in the end, it truly makes them that much more dangerous.
The constant drivel of nonsense is nauseating. What does Incarnational even mean?? How about Missional?? Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Discipline, Social Justice?? Speaking Prophetically?? What about Beauty, Sacramental, Sacred?? Speaking Life over people and culture?? Or how about Spiritual Rhythms, Journey, or Presence??
I don’t want to have to hear someone lecture in order to find out some hidden meaning or how they are defining some new term. If the average believer can’t conclude these things, even from a cursory reading of the Bible, why do people think they need to invent or re-invent some phrase to capture what they are trying to say??
We have gotten so far away from pointing people to reading and studying the Bible that most today would rather hear what man has to say rather than God. What we really need is to be teaching people Biblical discernment so that they might recognize true Biblical preaching and teaching versus the false teaching and false teachers that are truly all around us; even those who are in our local churches.
Biblical discernment starts with us. We must be reading and studying the Bible enough to know the difference between truth and error and truth and opinion. It isn’t enough that we just take some guy from the pulpit, someone speaking at a conference, an author who wrote a book, a blog, or some post on social media as the Truth, but spend the time to see who they really are and what they actually believe. The reality is that it might truly surprise us what we will find out.
We must stop with the cute lines and hold those as pastors, leaders, authors, and even other professing believers to the same standard. It all boils down to clearly declaring the Truth.
That means that sermons need to really be going through a book of the Bible systematically (without the constant jumping around to other passages), without an agenda or the modern day “sermon series”, and start explaining the Biblical text, as well as the real context, so people can understand what is written. (Nehemiah 8:8) Enough with the acronyms, fill in the blanks, the 3 “R’s” of some topic, or the however many keys, ways, signs, marks, strategies, or steps to whatever. Enough with filling sermons, books, and making pictures with spiritual sounding quotes from people. None of that means anything. Let me say that again. None of that means anything. Yes, it may be popular today, but please, please, can we all just return to actually preaching and teaching the Word.
This also means stopping the blogs, social media posts, and books on obscure trendy issues. I really don’t want to read a book called, “Jesus Swagger” or “Swipe Right”. These things again may be appealing to the masses, but this is absolutely ridiculous and needs to stop.
The sad reality is that these things will continue. The sadder part is that most of the pastors you see partnering with one another at conferences and interacting on with each other on social media, promote these things and go around gushing over one another. The same seems to be happening even among professing believers. And these aren’t just isolated instances. Chances are, a striking number of the pastors, leaders, authors, and even those in your own churches, are guilty of doing these things. Don’t believe me, check out their social media feeds, the books they promote, and the things they are talking about and pursuing.
We can, and we must do better than this. We are far past the time of tolerating this nonsense in the Church. Why would we waste our time with those that continually feel the need to be focused on such ambiguous and random things by dragging Jesus’ name through the mud.
For the sake of the Gospel and for the sake of truly making disciples, we must return to the simplicity of clearly proclaiming the Bible.