Church: Dishonest or Trustworthy
Opinion - Everybody has one! Dishonest or Trustworthy?
Her screen name is "sgal901" -- and she wants to know if she's pretty or if she's ugly. Maybe she asked her parents or maybe didn’t? Maybe she mulled this over with her friends, but either way this middle-school student decides to pose the question to the world via YouTube.
Smiling sweetly at her laptop and donning a knit-cap made to look like a koala bear "sgal901" does what middle school girls do: She complains of being called ugly by some and "oh-my-gosh-so-beautiful" by others. But rather than simply lamenting the craziness and confusion of being 13 years old through scribbles in a diary, "sgal" has turned to the Internet for insight. Is she pretty? Or is she ugly? And the Internet responded. This one young girl's public pondering of her own beauty has been viewed more than 6.9 million times and racked up over 130,000 comments.
Yet, if we wonder what the problem is here, it isn't the fact that kids are wondering whether or not they're attractive. The question is normal. It's the audience that makes all the difference.
You just can’t ask anyone. You have to ask people who are trustworthy. Moms and Dads should qualify. Maybe Grandma and Grandpa? Check the maturity levels of brothers and sisters before asking them! A lifelong friend who knows you can be trusted. Asking them if you're pretty; that's fine. Their opinion is probably worth listening to![i]
We’ve been talking opinion for the last two weeks. It’s obvious. Everyone has an opinion, but audience that makes all the difference. Some opinions are not worth as much as others. WHY? TRUST! Do we trust the person giving us their opinion or advice?
People in this world have opinions about the church. Some see the church as dishonest. Those folks are just after your money! I came to church for help, but ended up getting hurt instead. Some people see the church as trustworthy! And the main reason they do is Jesus. I can trust Jesus. I have no problem with the perfect son of the living God. The problem I have is his followers. Can his followers be trusted? Let’s look at two of them. Paul and Timothy! Turn in your Bibles to 1st Timothy 4. Do you need a Bible? Paul wrote 13 letters. 9 went to churches. 4 went to three specific people - Timothy, Titus and Philemon. Timothy received two letters. Paul is in Macedonia. Timothy is in Ephesus. Timothy is a pastor or minister leading the church in Ephesus. Dr. James Smith states there are two reasons why Paul wrote to Timothy. Paul encourages Timothy to be faithful to God in both his private and public life! But the ultimate purpose of his letter was to provide the church a leadership manual.[ii]
I have found that trust in a church goes no farther than its leaders. Leaders are not perfect, but they should be ruthlessly following the one who is perfect! Paul loved certain sayings. Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Grace be with you all. And this one in 1st Timothy 4:9! What is the “saying?” It’s verse 8,[iii] but let’s go back to verse 6! If you point these things out to the brothers… what things? It had only been 30 years since Jesus left this earth and people had already started abandoning their faith in him. Others started teaching what was false. Paul mentions two in chapter 1. Hymenaeus and Alexander. What is the best description of a false teacher? They deceive! “If you treat your body harshly, God will see your devotion and reward you.” Not true! We should be thankful to God for what he has given us. Timothy, instruct people to be thankful!
I have another confession. I want to be considered a good minister! But what does that mean? I have found there are lots of opinions on what it means to be a good minister. He saw me in the hospital. He prays short prayers. He tells funny jokes. His preaching is deep. His preaching is basic! He did my daughter’s wedding. He goes on mission trips. He focuses on meeting needs locally. He dresses up. He wears jeans. He likes football. The fact I like the Browns proves you should question my judgment!
Who here likes ketchup? According to Heinz, ketchup flows out of a glass bottle at a speed of .028 miles per hour. That's slower than a Galapagos tortoise, which creeps along at .16 miles per hour. Have you ever found yourself impatiently tapping that ketchup bottle? It takes sooooo long to come out. Well, not to worry. A PhD candidate at M.I.T has developed LiquiGlide, a "structured liquid" that can be used to coat the inside of a ketchup bottle facilitating a faster ketchup flow. Now you won't have to wait thirty seconds for ketchup to hit your hotdog.[iv] May I say, I did not know that was a problem! I did not know ketchup flow was a major issue in this world. Sometimes ministers find themselves dealing with issues that they didn’t know were issues. Go back to verse 6.
A good minister nourishes himself and others on the truth! Author, preacher John Piper said, “I don’t think there is much you can do to become a preacher except know your Bible and be unbelievably excited about what’s there.” A good minister follows good teaching! Let me give you one! Go to 1st Timothy 1:15-16. (worst) Have you ever heard of Terry Bollette? There’s a reason. Most know him as Hulk Hogan. Or Carlos Estevez? Better known as Charlie Sheen.[v] And Tramar Dillard. Better known as rapper Flo Rider[vi] This is Paul but he used to be Saul and Saul was one bad man! He killed people in the name of God. Sometimes the church doesn’t get it right. If you’ve been messed up by the church. Hurt or offended. I’m so sorry! What makes the church great are people. What makes it awful sometimes are people.
Saul’s name is changed to Paul and Paul proves that no one is too far gone from God’s love and mercy! The Apostle Paul is proof that we do not have to let our past destroy the present. A good minister will constantly jog our minds concerning Jesus’ mercy and paint this picture. Go to verse 17.
That kind of God is worth devoting your life to. Go back to chapter 4 and find verse 7.
I think Jack and the Beanstalk is pretty good, but Jack won’t change your life. There is no goose that lays the golden egg, but there once was a man named Adam and a woman named Eve. How do we know? Paul refers to this couple in chapter 2. A good minister will avoid myths and tales and focus on training instead.
Training refers to athletic discipline! Getting up early and running. Watching what you eat. Telling your body what to do instead of our bodies telling us what to do! Training is not trying. Training is intentional. Good ministers teach that being in shape is good, but being in spiritual shape is better! Find verse 8.
Remember the old joke folks. If Bob and I are out in the woods and we start getting chased by a bear. I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to out run Bob! Watch this commercial! I don’t think any of us here can out run a cheetah, but physical training does have value! But godliness – that is living for God. Being like God’s son. Having reverence and respect for God is better!
This is what good ministers teach! You can trust a church that teaches what Jesus taught! I am going to provide you a list of professions. Here’s the list: Bankers, Journalists, Building Contractors, Accountants, Funeral Directors, Clergy, Police Officers, High School Teachers, Business Executives, Labor Union Leaders, Stockbrokers, Advertising Practitioners, Medical Doctors, Car Salespeople, Pharmacists, Nurses, Real Estate Agents, Members of Congress, Lawyers, Telemarketers, and Lobbyists
Gallup did a poll back in December asking people to rate the following professions in regards to honesty and high ethical standards. Who do you think received the highest rating? Nurses – 84%. Who do you think received the lowest? Three tied at 7% Lobbyists, Members of Congress and Car Salespeople
If you were taking this poll wouldn’t your opinion be decided by actual experience? Is it possible to get an uncaring nurse? It is, but that does make the entire nursing profession bad! That’s also true of the church! If you’ve been hurt by a follower of Jesus. I’m so sorry! But that doesn’t make the church dishonest!
Go back to verse 10. Now what’s a church? A church as an assembly of believers who are not perfect, but have put their faith in one who is! There’s a movie out right now that I don’t want you to see. It’s called Lawless. It stars the infamous Bondurant brothers. Forrest, Howard and little Jack. The movie is staged in Franklin County, VA during the Prohibition era. The movie is rated R, bloody violent. My Mom, sister and brother-in-law went to see it. My Mom spent have the time with her eyes closed. She told me she’s going back to her maiden name! Three Bondurant brothers chose to live for themselves. Three other Bondurant brothers, Bill, Greg & David have chosen to live for God! How can you trust a Christ follower? Paul showed us. It’s what they believe and how they live!
To become a ministry partner at WCC you must believe Jesus is the Christ. That he lived died and rose again. You have professed his name as Lord. You have been immersed. Not as a baby, but as one who fully acknowledges that you have sinned and need forgiveness. If that’s where you are today – what’s preventing you from being part of this family?
[i] http://www.homileticsonline.com/Volume 24, Number 5, Am I ugly?
[ii] James E. Smith, The NT Books Made Simple, 110
[iii] C. Michael Moss, CP NIV Commentary, 1st & 2nd Timothy & Titus, 90-91
[iv] www.preacgingtoday.com, News that Illustrates, June 4, 2012