Principles and Values
The Word of God is a timeless truth. It is still relevant and applicable to all of us today. Even though the setting and the story are different from what we encounter today, it has lessons that guides our everyday life. These are precious lessons that help us to know God and understand ourselves better. But many times, we fail to see the relevance because we just focus on knowing the story. Like one of my lecturers put it so well, he said that we ended up knowing the Bible of God rather than knowing the God of the Bible. That is why there are people who know the Bible very well, but still live a carnal life to glorify self. The Bible is reduced to some cerebral exercises that tickle our mind and not transform our lives. We can end up being so caught up with the interpretation that we missed what the Bible is trying to say.
Of course, nowadays there is another extreme. Preaching and teaching can become a kind of entertainment. Rather than using the pulpit to teach, we use it to entertain. Sad to say, many listeners like it because they find the Word of God soothing. They feel relaxed and refreshed after laughing the whole session. Speakers with a special kind of charisma is so captivating and intriguing. But if the Word of God does not captivate us or intrigue us to the extent of moving us to repentance, then we may be just playing God. Many people today do not care whether the sermon or teaching are taught correctly, they just hope that it is not boring. Nowadays, we still add in sounds, lights and media to our worship service. Yes, technology has advanced and people’s attention span has shortened over the years. But the Word of God should never be compromised. Though it is good to use technology, we must not forget that it is a luxury. Though we need techniques to help in our preaching and teaching, techniques is not everything. We must remember the basic that we do not go church to worship technology or techniques, preacher or teacher, music or management strategies but God. The timeless truth of God must take the centre stage, not any other things.
In our preaching and teaching today, it is also common to have the whats, the whys and the hows. This of course is a neat way to present a topic. For example, we can talk about what is prayer, why we need to pray, and how to pray. But what is sometimes lacking is to teach the principles and values from God’s perspective. From the initial days of my conversion, I know that prayer is communicating with God and if I have any needs, I can tell them to God and He would answer me. This is the assurance of answered prayer. That’s true but not complete. More important than presenting our needs to God, I later know that prayer is a way of discerning His will and yielding to Him through communing with Him. God is actually more important than my needs. I just wonder why this was not taught to me first. It is actually very important for me to change my wrong value of putting myself first in prayers and to know that praying to know God is more important than having Him meet my needs. I could have mistaken God for a Santa Claus if I have built the theology wrongly. If principles and values are centred on us, we are sure to get selfish Christians. Perhaps, that is why we see less Christians who are like the early church believers anymore. We only see more and more nominal Christians who are demanding and self-seeking. Incomplete theology can lead to impaired believers.
Like it or not, we often compromise the Word of God. Even when we share the Gospel, we do not share the full Gospel but we mellowed it down. When we go for rally or revival meetings, we hear of all the nice things from God. We have the grace of God, prophecies and promises, but where is the call for repentance? Well, we may just finished it in a few lines for fear that it would affect the response later. How many of us dare to preach like John Sung today? To be frank, we actually care for the results more than the souls. We are hard up for our church to grow. As such, we hope to ‘lure’ them into the kingdom of God first and then ‘convert’ them slowly. But subtly, we are actually building them on a theology that centred on human beings. We ended up trying to solve their never-ending problems in church and start blaming them for not growing. It maybe us who have taken a wrong footstep in the first place.
Why not come back to the basics? Do not just tell Bible stories or build our church that centred around human beings and techniques, build our church on God-centred principles and values. Be bold to show why and how God’s principles and values are superior than ours, and move to a call for genuine repentance. Build true disciples for Jesus. Do not be threatened by the fact that the church is growing slowly. It is still better than not growing or growing very fast but without a genuine faith in God.