Recently, I was mindlessly scrolling through Twitter and came across a post with this direct quote, “You have to take control of your thought life. That’s where the battle is taking place. If you let negative thoughts continue to play, they’ll keep you from your destiny.” The statement was made by a very well known pastor today.
On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with the statement. However, this is a worldly mindset, not a Christ centered mindset. The world tells us that we have power on our own. We’re told to pour into ourselves, have ‘me’ time, and love ourselves above all. Is there anything wrong with taking care of yourself? Of course not! The problem lies in looking only within ourselves when we should be turning to Him. Jesus is our sustainer and will guide of our life if we allow Him. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” When we not only turn to Him, but dedicate our lives to Him, He is faithful to lead us in His will for our lives.
You might be thinking, ‘okay Erica, it’s just a quote. Why are you making a big deal about it?” Honestly, it’s a bigger deal than you might think. In the modern church, we see a lot of positive, motivational style ‘preaching’ with just enough Jesus to be called church. In effort to appeal to the masses, leaders today will focus on the uplifting parts of the Bible while forgoing the parts that might make someone uncomfortable. The pastor who made the previous statement has even went on record saying he won’t preach about hell, saying, “People already feel guilty enough. They’re not doing what they should, raising their kids—we can all find reasons. So I want them to come to Lakewood or our meetings and be lifted up, to say, ‘You know what? I may not be perfect, but I’m moving forward. I’m doing better.’ And I think that motivates you to do better.” That is nothing short of dangerous rhetoric.
Friend, if your pastor isn’t teaching the entire Word of God, he is doing a disservice to you and to the kingdom of God. When you only focus on the ‘cheerful’ parts of the Bible, you miss the unbelievable grace and mercy of God. Yes, God is love and He is faithful and we should be reminded of that. However, we should also be reminded that He sent his only son to die on the cross of Calvary for our sins! Jesus died for us so we could have the opportunity to live forever in Heaven with him, as opposed to an eternity in Hell. I don’t know about you but the fact that God loved me so much that He sacrificed His own son for me is pretty cheerful! You want to talk about love? THAT is true love.
It is never enjoyable to hear that we might need to make life changes. However, it is necessary to walk in the fullness of God. Allowing someone to believe they’re on the right path for fear of hurting their feelings is not love. Let me ask you this; if you were driving and there was a man waving a flashlight, saying the bridge is down up ahead, wouldn’t you be grateful for him? You wouldn’t tell him to mind his own business; you’d thank him for saving your life. I stole that analogy from my own pastor, who has preached the entire truth of God’s word for over 30 years. He loves us enough to potentially step on some toes because he knows that our eternal fate depends on it.
The Bible warns of deceit in the last days, which are upon us. Jesus will soon return for the church and we need to be certain that we are sitting under a ministry that is pushing us toward Him, not catering to our own desires. Matthew 24:24 warns us, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” We are seeing this today. Many claiming to be of God, but in reality they’re no different than the world.
So how can you recognize a false prophet? Especially when there is a little truth mixed in? The overarching theme should always center around the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. That is the central message of the Bible. John 3:16. The most well known, and arguably ignored, verse of the Bible. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Everything in the Bible either leads up to Jesus dying on the cross or looks back at Jesus dying on the cross. It is the focal point of true Christianity.
Pray that God would give you discernment to know the truth in this deceitful world. If you study His word and seek Him through prayer, He will lead you to truth. Truly loving God and living for Him means loving truth. Consider Philippians 1:9-10, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” That is the ultimate goal – to walk in His truth so we can one day stand before Him and hear him say, well done, my good and faithful servant.
Until next time,