Wise or Foolish?
At the conclusion of Jesus’ sermon on the mount, He told the parable of the wise and foolish builders. The distinction made between these two individuals was not something simply inherited, and the trials they endured were no different, but it was their reaction to hearing the words of Jesus that chose their fate. The wise man heard the words of Jesus and applied them in his life, by building his house on the rock. The foolish man heard the same words but did not put them into practice, instead he built his house on the sand. When the storms of life began to rise up against them both, only one house stood firm, because it had been founded on the rock. The house built on the sand fell – “and great was its fall” (Matthew 7:24-27).
When Jesus concluded His lesson, the people went away in complete amazement – “for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:29). The authority of Jesus was manifested throughout the sermon which called on its hearers to listen, believe, and obey its principles. The promise of strength and wisdom is offered to all listeners of God’s Word, but the sad reality is this often requires more than man is willing to extend. The narrow gate is perceived by many as too difficult, but life will only be found by traveling the on the narrow way.
In the past two months, the evangelical church has been shocked by the public announcement of two of their leading influencers/leaders who have lost their faith in God. Joshua Harris, author of the popular Christian book, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” took to Instagram to announce his departure from the faith in July. Harris shared that he had “undergone a massive shift in regard to his faith in Jesus.” The cause of Harris’ shift might be attributed to a number of things, but the one that appears greater than the rest is his “new” understanding toward the LGBTQ+ movement. He wrote –
But I specifically want to add to this list now: to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry.
Harris’ public confession has been shared by thousands, but it has also been the cause of numerous articles trying to shore up a corroding foundation.
The second leader to announce publicly his denial of faith in Jesus was Marty Sampson. Sampson was a songwriter and worship leader with the Australian praise and worship group Hillsong. Sampson revealed, in a since deleted Instagram post, that he has begun to question the Bible’s authenticity, God’s justice in judgement, and the overall judgmental attitudes portrayed by Christians as the root causes for his denial/rejection of faith. Again his public announcement was immediately shared by thousands, and the ripple effect has been evident throughout evangelical Christianity.
Each of these leaders in the evangelical world have provoked a variety of responses both negatively and positively. One of those reactions was written by John L. Cooper, who is the lead singer of the popular Christian rock band Skillet, on his Facebook account. Cooper made a few observations in his lengthy post as to the reason(s) Christian leaders are losing their faith that are revealing to the evangelical world and its crumbling foundation. Cooper wrote –
We must STOP making worship leaders and thought leaders or influencers or cool people or ‘relevant’ people the most influential people in Christendom…We are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20 year old worship singers as our source of truth…We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word.
It is time for the church to rediscover the preeminence of the Word. And to value the teaching of the Word. We need to value truth over feeling. Truth over emotion. And what we are seeing now is the result of the church raising up influencers who did not supremely value truth who have led a generation who also do not believe in the supremacy of truth. And now those disavowed leaders are proudly still leading and influencing boldly AWAY from the truth.
Cooper’s diagnosis of the dilemma facing the evangelical church is rather eye-opening. He did not mince words or “sugar coat” the problem, but rather bluntly revealed the truth of the matter. They have not built on the foundation of the rock and the house is beginning to fall.
How can we, who are members of the Lord’s body, react positively to these types of situations confronting our denominational friends? We must recognize the desperate need for the teaching of God’s Word. As the apostle Paul wrote, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). If we are not applying God’s Word in our lives, then how are we any different from our evangelical friends? Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish men summarizes man’s reaction to the Word of God. The foundation of the sand will always be insufficient in the storms of life, and great will be its fall. May we learn from the examples of others and build our lives/homes firmly upon the rock of Jesus Christ.