“Preachers who love their congregations will hold them to high standards. They will refuse to lessen the high calling of discipleship. They will honor the gravity of Biblical truth with applications of equal gravity…Grace calls us to a higher standard than did the Law.”—Daniel Overdorf.
Unfortunately, high standards do not seem to be desirable for many people who claim to follow Christ. A lot of people prefer to hear a watered-down version of the Bible, and, sadly, many preachers are happy to deliver messages that these itching ears long to hear.
Over and over, Jesus teaches that it is not an easy thing to be his disciple. In order to truly follow him you must deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow him daily. You must die to yourself in order to live for him.
But over and over, people ignore this critical principle of Christianity. They put themselves first instead of Christ. They get their standards from the world rather than from the one they call their Lord. Jesus asks of them, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).
Like Overdorf says, loving preachers hold their congregations to high standards. You can’t love people and let them continue in false beliefs. You cannot love people and allow them to reject the standards that God plainly sets in his Word. You cannot love people without correcting them when their behavior is horribly sinful. This is true for all Christians, not just preachers.
Part of the problem is that we have lost the true definition of love. Our culture believes that loving people includes affirming them in whatever sinful attitude or lifestyle they have chosen to adopt. Furthermore, many feel that the only way we can love people is to say things that make them happy, no matter how much the truth of the Bible has to be twisted, ignored or rejected.
Sadly, this way of thinking has crept into the church. The highest priority for many preachers, and other church leaders, is to never offend anyone. But here is the thing—the Bible is offensive to many people! It always has been and always will be! If your goal is to never offend anyone, you need to move the goalposts. Our goal should be to please God, not people. If we are pleasing God, godly people will recognize this and will appreciate our commitment to speaking the truth in love. Those who are not godly will not only fail to understand, they will no doubt be offended by our stance for the truth.
It’s not just the preachers who need to show their love by holding Christians to high standards. Church leaders need to support their truth-telling preacher when he is unjustly attacked. Church members must develop thicker skin and learn the meaning of repentance. Godly parents must hold their children to high standards. For all Christians, holiness must be of the utmost importance. Since Jesus went to the cross to pay an extremely high price for our sins, how dare we take lightly the sin in our own lives and in the collective life of the congregation?
The church in America needs to do some serious self-evaluation. We need to re-examine our standards to make sure that they are in line with what God says, not with what the world says. It’s time for a revival of holiness.
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”–Ephesians 4:14-15.