A pastor friend of mine, Shawn, is fond of saying, â€œYou can either scream at the darkness, or you can light a candle.â€ More
and more I have seen the wisdom of that statement. Christians can see darkness a mile away, and get really loud about it. Yet, we are not so swell at being, well, you know, the whole â€œlight of the world thing.â€ Christians are often appalled at the wickedness of the culture and the compromise within the Church. I did a little research before I wrote this, and you can find whole websites devoted to â€œunveilingâ€ all the wolves in sheepâ€™s clothing. Apparently, some guy who owns a website finds it to be his personal commission from God to lump Oswald Chambers, Charles Spurgeon, John Piper, CS Lewis, Joel Osteen and Oprah into one massive heretical lump.
The problem with much of this â€œwolf-huntingâ€ is that, as I like to put it, we have become rather proficient at skinning the sheep instead of catching the actual wolves. There are godly men whose ministries are being slandered and maligned by these â€œwolf-huntersâ€ while the real villains run rampant. There are a lot of sheep whose skin has been unnecessarily shorn, and those doing the shearing glibly grin as they put another notch in their belt of wolves they have exposed.
Christians ought not to be appalled by the wickedness of the culture, nor at the divisions and schisms within the church. 1 Peter 4:12 tells us that it should not surprise us when we face fiery trials. Some of the trials the Church is continually forced to face is the trial of living a rotten culture and the trial of standing for truth in a compromise-riddled Christian culture. As the old hymn says,
â€œThough with a scornful wonder Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder, By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping, Their cry goes up, â€˜How long?â€™
And soon the night of weeping Shall be the morn of song!â€
Sadly, some eager beaver Christians have decided that the best approach to dealing with both of these is to buy a web domain, something like www.wolves-in-sheeps-clothing.com, and devote article after article to unmasking all the villains in the church and in the culture.
Now, I am all for standing firm for truth and holding Christian leaders accountable. I also know too well how lacking the modern Church seems to be in who it chooses to follow and esteem. As an aside, I recently discovered that Katy Perryâ€™s first album was a â€œChristianâ€ album and that Christianity Today called her the â€œbest new artist of that yearâ€ and she toured with a bunch of well-known Christian artists. This is a great example of how the Church has failed in its responsibility to â€œlay hands on no man quickly.â€ Instead, some sweet, teenage girl with a good voice impresses the A&R guy at the Christian record label, and theyâ€™re in need of some fresh talent, so they sign her, and then she turns into, well, whatever it is sheâ€™s turned into. Yes we need discernment. But I think discernment goes deeper than just creating a website, posting an article decrying some leading evangelical, or wagging a cyber finger at the wickedness of some public figure.
Discernment is a gift of the Spirit. The Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus. When the Spirit of Jesus dwells in a man, there is very specific fruit that He bears in that man. That fruit is marked by the love, gentleness, goodness and honor which marks Christâ€™s nature. Discernment, then, cannot and must not be divorced from an intimate knowledge of the nature of Christ. Discernment flows out of knowing Christ. Many quote Jesus in Matthew 7:1, â€œJudge not, that ye be not judged.â€ Thatâ€™s fine and good. But in the very next verse (Matthew 7:2) He clarifies what He means, â€œFor with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.â€ Meaning, if you donâ€™t wish to be judged, then donâ€™t judge. However, when you do judge remember that the standard you use will be used for you as well. What standard ought a godly Christian use for judging, evaluating, discerning? The only true standard: the standard of Christ.
Thus, what would it look like if, as Christians, we held high the standard of Christ . . . all of Christ? What would happen if we devoted our lives to knowing and loving and teaching the standard of Christ to those within our range of influence? Christ is light, in Him is no darkness.
Thus, men and women of God, preach Christ.
We do not need mere denouncement of some evangelical pastor who is a secret member of the illuminati. We do not need another tweet-war defending some dynasty of duck hunters. We do not need another video revealing Obamaâ€™s conspiracy to undermine Americaâ€™s national sovereignty.
My friends, we need Christ. We need clear teaching on and firm believing in Christ. We do need discernment, we will need to stand against the wickedness of the nations and the heresies that endeavor to pollute the Church, but we must do it without compromising the nature of our Christ. Feed the sheep, donâ€™t skin them. Hunt for wolves, and remember that wrestling wolves is not wrestling with flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). Donâ€™t find spiritual confidence in your ability to sniff out a fink; abide in the Light that is the Light of men and gives light unto all men (Matt 5:15). After all, in His light we see light (Ps. 36:9)! Or we could say, by the Light of His countenance all the Enemyâ€™s deceptions are exposed . . . without skinning the sheep.