I’ve always been stirred by the exhortation in James 1:21 that we “receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.” Sadly, many today ignore it. Continue reading . . .
I’ve always been stirred by the exhortation in James 1:21 that we “receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.” Sadly, many today ignore it.
When I began my public pastoral ministry over 40 years ago it was entirely unnecessary to say anything about the importance of the Word of God in the lives of God’s people. It was a given of the Christian life. Virtually everyone, except for the anti-supernaturalists who reject the heart of Christianity, believed in and was devoted to the power of God’s word for governing our lives as believers. But times have changed. Meticulous study of God’s Word is now out of style. What happened? I’ll mention a couple of things.
(1) Many in the younger generations were offended by the traditionalism of those who stood firmly on the Word of God. In other words, to be a Bible-believing, Bible-memorizing, Bible-studying church was often equated with being legalistic and exclusively Republican and resistant to social justice and afraid of engaging with the wider world in which we live. Simply put, many (not all) who were Word oriented were also mean-spirited and judgmental and indifferent to the orphans and widows of our world.
So the younger generation lost confidence in the power of God’s Word to make a difference. It’s as if they said: “Well, if the Bible is all that powerful and so important, then why don’t the very people who claim to believe it demonstrate those changes in the way they view people of different ethnicities? Why don’t they take seriously the Bible’s emphasis on social justice and racial reconciliation and world hunger?” Understandably, to some extent, they turned from Bible-centrality while seeking to retain their Christ-centeredness.
The bottom line is that many of the older generation became so intellectually and doctrinally driven that it degenerated into arrogance and pride. It led to unnecessary divisions among Christians as people said: “Well, if you don’t believe just like I do then I won’t have fellowship with you. You need to leave our church because you’ll never have a meaningful place to serve here.”
(2) There is a second factor that needs to be noted. With the explosion of modern media and digital technology, the printed page has been relegated to a distant and irrelevant past. Newspapers are going bankrupt and bookstores are closing. Today’s younger folk prefer to see than to hear. They wish to participate rather than to study. They want moving images rather than a book. They prefer feeling over thinking. Everyone today, and not just the younger generation, is bombarded daily with sight and image and color and virtual reality and sensible/tangible encounters.
My guess is that some of the people in my own church would prefer that I incorporate movie clips into my sermons or make use of skits or dramatic enactments. Perhaps they might even prefer that we used strobe lights and fog machines during our time of singing. I’m sure that more than a few people have left Bridgeway over the years that I’ve been here precisely because they wanted a more interactive and sensory experience on Sunday morning.
Please understand that I am sympathetic with all these concerns. And the last thing I would do is suggest that those who approach ministry on a Sunday morning differently than I do are in sin. Who knows . . . I might surprise the people at Bridgeway some Sunday with a movie clip or even something as revolutionary as power point! If that doesn’t show you how “far behind the times” I am, nothing will!
All that being said, there’s no escaping or denying the force of what James is saying to you and to me in the second half of verse 21. We must not only read but heed this remarkable imperative: “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (v. 21b).
To be continued . . .