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Inflating the Influence of "Bad Apples" (published in The Herald/Voice 6/13/12)

posted Sep 7, 2013, 1:17 PM by Fccea Webmaster
One church secretary was in the habit of recording the title of the sermon in the bulletin followed by the pastor's name. One Sunday morning she noticed a lot of snickering as people got settled. The cause became obvious when she noticed what she had typed: "What Makes God Sick: Pastor Joe Smith."

I find that interesting because I have found that one of the major reasons people stay away from church is because they can't stomach some of the people they find there -- usually labeled hypocrites.

Those who feel that way may be surprised to learn that they have a lot more in common with Jesus than they might have thought. Here is what He wrote in a letter to one early church: "I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth [literally, vomit you up]" (Revelation 3:15-16).

Jesus doesn't take kindly to those who claim one thing and live another any more than most of us. They make Him sick, whether found inside the church or out. If you hate religious dishonesty, you are in good company.

The question is, is it wise to let the duplicity of a few scoundrels dictate our own actions and drive us from truth just because it has been trampled on by others? Do we really want to inflate the influence of those we despise by basing our beliefs and actions on their foolishness?

There is also the question of whether we are being duplicitous ourselves. C. S. Lewis once pointed out, "If what you want is an argument against Christianity . . . you can easily find some stupid and unsatisfactory Christian and say, 'So there's your boasted new man! Give me the old kind.'" Could it be that the condemnation of slackers is merely an evasion?

Consider the farmer who invited a friend to have some fresh cider made from his apple orchard. The friend politely declined and when pressed admitted that he had found the man's apples sour in the past. When asked which apples he had eaten, the friend replied, "Why, those that fell along the road over your fence." The farmer laughed and acknowledged, "Yes, those are sour. I planted them to fool the boys who live around here. Come to the middle of my orchard and you will find a different taste."

May I suggest that at the center of Christian faith is a Christ of infinitely "different taste" from some of His supposed followers. His is a taste worth pursuing.

After all, we don't let exaggerating fishermen keep us from the joy of the real thing. Nor do we let the inflated egos of a few self-deceived chefs keep us from the joy of true culinary art!

How shortsighted it would be to allow the "bad apples" of religious experience keep us from pursuing the soul-satisfying relationship that awaits all who will cast aside excuses to find heart-warming, life-changing truth in Christ.

Who knows, we might even find a few "good apples" -- kindred hearts who are the genuine article and who rejoice the heart of Christ.

By His Grace, Pastor Dave