Dr. Charles Wood is a dear friend and mentor to me and any time he takes the time to write something or tell me something, I listen and I listen intently.-á He sends out an almost daily challenge called “The Woodchuck’s Den” in which he thinks outloud and often stimulates my musings for the day.
Today, he really invited discussion and thought with a headlines that starts off with, “The Biggest Problem…” which is a sure-fired way to get discussion going.-á Frankly, I don’t even know that I think what he wrote about is the biggest problem in the circles he mentions, but I do think it is a major problem and I appreciate the challenge.
So without further introduction, here’s Dr. Wood’s comments…
———-From the Woodchuck’s Den — 9.28.07———-
-á-á-á-á “Last week I mentioned that I would tackle this subject this week so here goes.-á There is a lot of discussion today about social drinking and the Bible (the discussion-á was around more than fifty years ago when I can remember some rather heated exchanges around the coffee pot when in seminary).-á I donGÇÖt think that is the biggest problem we face by far.-á There is much discussion today about seeing movies in theaters (just about everyone watches them on DVD and other technological advances at home).-á IsnGÇÖt it neat how technology has enabled so many to agree to - or even sign –á GÇ£church covenantsGÇ¥ and other agreements without having to take then seriously?-á But this also isnGÇÖt, in my opinion, our greatest problem.
-á-á-á-á-áThe music wars continue to rage (and, again in my opinion, do little to change the tastes and preferences of anyone, including those who readily sign statements on the subject and just as readily violate them at home, in the car, etc.).-á But no matter how much importance certain educational institutions attach to the subject, IGÇÖm not convinced that this is evangelicalismGÇÖs greatest problem.-á There are also battles about other issues such as-á standards, versions of the Word of God, degrees of separation, etc., but no matter how vehemently such peripheral issues are debated, they do not constitute the greatest problem we face.
-á-á-á-á Our society is beset by social issues of significant concern to evangelicals.-á Same sex marriage, school sex-education programs, the decay of modern higher education (so amply shown in recent headlines), and even abortion on demand (as horrible and dangerous as that matter is) are all current issues.-á I am not convinced, however, that even these issues with cosmic significance comprise the greatest problem we face.
-á-á-á-á-áThe greatest problem?-á I am convinced it is the fact that hundreds of thousands of people sit in the pews of evangelical churches on a weekly basis who have never even so much as shared their faith with anyone else much less personally led anyone to the Lord.-á I serious doubt if many of these multitudes have even so much as ever invited someone to church (unless it was on the GÇ£pack-a-pewGÇ¥ night of an evangelistic meeting when they invited someone from another Bible-believing church to be their guest.)
-á-á-á-á-áThe last words of Jesus didnGÇÖt include any mention of alcohol consumption, dancing, movie-going, Bible versions, standards, same-sex marriage, abortion on demand or even a diatribe on musical tastes and preferences.-á Surely some of those matters are of importance to many and some are to all who name the name of Christ, but they were not included in the words spoken during those precious last few days spent with His disciples.-á I have always attached greatest importance to the words spoken by someone who is in His right mind and knows he is dying.-á Jesus fits that picture, and it is interesting to note that His concern was with sending His disciples into all the world on a quest to make more disciples.-á How easy it is to get involved in GÇ£goodGÇ¥ things and even GÇ£betterGÇ¥ things and to leave the GÇ£bestGÇ¥ things undone.
-á-á-á-á-áMight it not be possible that some of the problems plaguing society now would yield to a greater body of believers who truly believed what they claimed to believed and who lived out their Christianity in the world in such a way as to gain the respect of the unsaved world (rather than its reprobation as is so often currently the deserved case)?
-á-á-á-á-áUnfortunately, this problem is made worse - in my estimation - by the fact that many believers, especially in fundamentalist churches - donGÇÖt even really know anyone who is unsaved.-á Surely they work among the unsaved and have relatives who do not know the Lord, to say nothing of lost neighbors, but they donGÇÖt really know their neighbors or co-workers and stay fairly clear of many of their unsaved relatives.-á Often, they are encouraged in this evangelism-discouraging conduct by pastors who teach, at least by example if not by word, that preservation of a specific religious culture is more important than presentation of the glorious Gospel.-á GÇ£Stay away from the world lest you become infected.GÇ¥-á GÇ£Now that you are saved, youGÇÖre going to need a whole new set of friends.GÇ¥-á GÇ£Come to church every time the doors are openGÇ¥ (even if it keeps you from ever getting to really know someone you might have otherwise led to the Lord).-á How different from the approach of the Lord Jesus!-á He went to dinner at more than one tax collectorGÇÖs home.-á He would not take the cured GÇ£Maniac of GadaraGÇ¥ with Him when he departed from Gadara; telling him, instead, to go tell others in his town what had been done for him.-á He told a big-time female sinner to go tell her friends and relatives (can you image what most of them must have been like?) about the man who knew all about her.-á A woman taken in adultery was told simply to go and sin no more.-á Obviously, Jesus simply didnGÇÖt know that contact with the world might cause some of them to violate some aspect of a code of conduct that is at best derived from Scripture rather than specifically declared in it!
-á-á-á-á-áYes!-á There is room for teaching on some of the issues evangelicals - and especially fundamentalists - hold dear, but I really do question if those matters actually out-weigh the basic purpose for which Jesus came: to seek and to save the lost.-á Would we really have someone who smokes, drinks socially, goes to movies, dances, etc., go to hell rather than risk contamination by trying to get close enough to reach him or her with the Gospel?n++
-á-á-á-á-áAlthough I have reservations about the mega-church movement as a whole and about some particular churches of that genre in particular, I also have some personal first-hand observations that I think are interesting and revealing.-á There is a major mega-church near our church.-á Granger Community Church is a Willow Creek spin-off that operates much like Saddleback.-á Several people that I could not reach for Christ for one reason or another have now found the Lord through that church.-á When I run into them, I am always warmly greeted, and I find that all they want to talk about is the Lord and what He is doing in their lives and in the life of their church.-á I also run into former members of our church who have left us because of our GÇ£liberalism.GÇ¥-á They are also usually very courteous, but I find it almost impossible to engage them in any meaningful conversation about spiritual things that lasts more than two or three minutes.-á Asked about what God is doing in their lives of the life of their current church, they often respond with a blank look as if I had just spoken to them in Chinese.-á Maybe some of the time we spend criticizing the mega-churches for their GÇ£John 3:16 onlyGÇ¥ approach and their :shallowness,GÇ¥ could be better invested in trying to win people to Christ.
Right at the moment - and this is not just my opinion as it is backed by statistics - we are not doing a very good job of what I consider to be our most important task.-á This - to me - is the greatest problem of conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism.-á”
If you’d like to receive Dr. Wood’s daily email challenge, write him at LORCHUCK@aol.com — and tell him that you read his stuff at “Whirled Views”, will you?