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Doctrine in dialogue format
7The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. (Prov 20:)
In today's episode we find Pastor Leo and his friend Pastor Otto talking over their morning coffee. Listen:
"I don't know if you realize it or not Leo, but you're a talk of the town. From what I understand, in just the very short time you've been at your church you've turned it upside-down and you're preaching things that some have declared as heresy. Now, I know you have the best of intentions Leo. But I've known you a long time. These folks don't have that knowledge of you. Don't you think it would be wise on your part to tone your message down a little and make it more acceptable to the board?"
"You mean compromise my integrity Otto? Do you mean I should teach what I don't believe just because it will make life easier on me? No, I don't think I should do that Otto. I don't think it's what God wants me to do, and I don't think it's what will best serve my congregation."
"You don't think so do you? Have you considered that causing turmoil in the church, especially in the leadership of a very longstanding church and denomination, is not going to benefit the church or the congregation? Have you considered the fact that preaching a message that does not fit with contemporary thinking, nor the teachings that have long been heard, is only going to confuse your parishioners and cause them to leave your church, if not worse?"
"Yes, I've considered these things Otto. But consider this if you will. Why has the church moved so far from the Gospel and the traditions held as acceptable and universal just a few years ago that to hear those same words preached now sounds foreign? Why have the grand traditions that made the church so pleasurable to us as young people become something that is indistinguishable from the world? I'm not adding anything new Otto. I'm trying to bring back the high values the church once stood for. Is that so difficult to understand?"
"No Leo, it isn't hard to understand, but it is something that just can't be done without uprooting the entire system as it stands today. Waves, no matter how legitimate and understandable, can still sink the boat. Why don't you soften your approach a little? Compromise is not a dirty word Leo. Instead of attacking your church as if it were an enemy, you could pick at it little by little. That would be easier for them to take, don't you think?"
"You mean gently like Jesus was gentle and compromising? No Otto. I think of what God told Jeremiah he must do in order to bring Israel back into line with God's will. He told Jeremiah he must tear down, uproot, and destroy the mess that the nation had become, and then he could plant and build up the church as it ought to be. Jesus said the same thing using wine skins as an example. No, it has to be a complete uprooting or it just won't work."
"Losing your job won't help your cause either Leo. If you're not able to find a job as a minister, which you won't if you don't fall in line with your denominational doctrines, then you won't be able to help anybody do anything as far as the church is concerned. I have to face this as well. There's things I don't agree with that my denomination accepts. I would like to preach what I believe, but if I did I would be out on my ear without a job. I don't like the situation, but it's not my place to change it."
"In other words Otto, you've compromised your integrity. Is that what you're telling me?"
"Like I said Leo, compromise is not a dirty word. As it is I can do a lot of good for people. Working as a ditch digger I would be help to no one. It's the better of two evils."
"I prefer not to choose between evils Otto. No, I'll continue doing as I am. Jeremiah was told he would be a defensed city that the opposition would fight against, but would not prevail against. If I am doing the will of God, then I should be afforded that same protection. And if I'm out of the will of God, then my efforts will fail, as they should if I'm doing this on my own volition."
"You're not Jeremiah Leo. And it's not Israel you're up against. It's a huge and long established denomination. Look Leo, why don't you just go ahead and fall into line as far as your church is concerned and get yourself a radio program where you can teach whatever you feel is right. People do that all the time. And that way you can make your church happy and at the same time maybe reach thousands of people with what you believe to be true. Doesn't that sound like a good idea to you? If you're short on funds for starting such a thing, I have some savings I could...."
"I appreciate it Otto, but no. I've been called to serve where I am, and as I am. I'll fight it through to the end. And win or lose, I'll at least know I'm doing what I know to be right."
"Ok Leo, but don't say I didn't warn you. I've been through what you're going through, and believe me, it just isn't worth the price you'll have to pay. I learned that the only way to stay a pastor, the job I've been trained for, is to teach what is given me to teach, and that's all."
"I don't think you hear what you're saying Otto. Consider the words Paul had for Timothy, that is, to be longsuffering and persistent in truth, regardless of the consequences. You've chosen to be a preacher who tickles the ear of those who refuse to hear the truth. What good is it if you preach a message that only pleases your listeners, but does nothing for their soul? Doesn't it cause you to stop and wonder? I see the strength and the integrity of the church deteriorating rapidly, like a bolder gaining speed as it plummets into hell. I want to stop this downward movement as best I can, even if I have to do it alone. No Otto, I would rather preach to one person who's heart is after God, than to have a thousand listeners who are only wanting to hear something that makes them feel good."
1I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (2Tim 4:)
11And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:)
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