1828) Shallow and Cheesy Christianity

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Fred Rogers  (1928-2003)

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By Joshua Rogers (no relation to Fred), posted April, 4, 2018 at:  http://www.joshuarogers.com

     One time I was talking to a friend and she mentioned that when she first started following Jesus, the Lord greatly used sermons from a certain TV preacher to help her grow in her faith.  Personally, I wasn’t impressed with the televangelist.

     Granted, I hadn’t actually listened to any of the preacher’s sermons, but that was beside the point.  Everybody in my circle agreed that the preaching was little more than motivational speaking with scriptures thrown in.

     After my friend mentioned that she still listened to the preacher, I shared my negative opinion (again, recall that I hadn’t actually listened to any of this person’s sermons).  I didn’t anticipate the consequences of what I said.

     My friend tried to defend the preacher at first but then she let it go.  I could sense her disappointment: Maybe those sermons aren’t so great after all.  After that, she stopped listening to the televangelist and I was quite proud of myself for pushing her to do so.

     As time went by, my impact on her reminded me of this one time I had a song that God had used to show me how much He loved me.  I had listened to it over and over again, and it never got old.  One day I decided to play it for a friend who listened to it for 30 seconds before dismissing it as Christian contemporary garbage.  I still liked the song, but I never appreciated it the same way again.  Maybe it wasn’t that great after all.

     I’m afraid I did that to my friend who was so blessed by the TV preacher — and for what?

     Fred Rogers of the legendary children’s show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood tells the story of another preacher who left him unimpressed:

I remember so keenly one of the times I learned how individually the Spirit can work.  It was years ago, and my wife and I were worshiping in a little church with friends of ours, another husband and wife.  We were on vacation, and I was in the middle of my homiletics course at the time.

During the sermon I kept ticking off every mistake I thought the preacher — he must have been 80 years old — was making.  When this interminable sermon finally ended, I turned to my friend, intending to say something critical about the sermon.  I stopped myself when I saw the tears running down her face.

She whispered to me, ‘He said exactly what I needed to hear.’  That was a seminal experience for me.  I was judging and she was needing, and the Holy Spirit responded to need, not to judgment.

     I hate to admit the number of times I’ve put down certain Christian books, preachers, movies, or music that I deemed too shallow, too cheesy, or not quite in line with the finer points of my theology.  I don’t recall ever feeling the Holy Spirit move through me in power when I was doing that.  Instead, I usually just felt a strong sense of smugness.

     Scripture tells us, “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29). It also tells us to “let all things be done for building up” (1 Corinthians 14:26).

     I believe that we should humbly call out toxic ministries and frauds.  But it’s hard to see how I’m building up anyone by putting down Christian ministry that leaves me unimpressed.  Who am I to evaluate someone else’s offering?

     We ought to tread very lightly when taking on critical attitudes towards other believers and their attempts to build others.  The Holy Spirit may be responding to someone else’s need, and if so, we will inevitably grieve Him with our judgment.

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Ephesians 4:29-30a  —  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

I Corinthians 14:26  —  What then shall we say, brothers and sisters?  When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.  Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

I Thessalonians 5:11-13  —  Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.  Live in peace with each other.

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AN IRISH BLESSING:

Always remember to forget
The things that made you sad.
But never forget to remember
The things that made you glad.

Always remember to forget
The friends that proved untrue.
But never forget to remember
Those that have stuck by you.

Always remember to forget
The troubles that passed away.
But never forget to remember
The blessings that come each day.