|NE OF MY readers ended an email message to me the other day with: "Do you ever write anything positive?" The funny thing was; it happened to be someone who generally supported my views until I unwittingly smashed an idol of his in a recent article, causing him to see me in an entirely different light. The words of Paul in Galatians 4:16 come to mind:|
"Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?"
I usually direct those in pursuit of perpetual positivism and its narcissistic nonsense to the web sites of Rick Warren, Bill Hybels or their ecumenical mentor, Robert Schuller, where sin and repentance are passionately avoided for the sake of self-esteem, numerical growth and global unity; the new age "gospel". If your goal and focus is more on nurturing human relationships than growing in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ through personal sacrifice, bible study and a surrendered obedience to His Word, I doubt you will find anything I have to say gratifying, affirming or "positive." I assure you, I am no Tony Robbins, Zig Zigler or Norman Vincent Peale and am quite certain you will never hear me quoted at an Amway convention.
You see, a watchman is called to warn God's own of impending danger, not make people feel better about themselves through motivational speaking and writing with humorous anecdotes, heartwarming stories and psychotherapy - a practice that has not only become commonplace in the pulpits of America but has turned Christianity into consumeranity.
But, in response to the reader's rather poignant question, I would like to withdraw my sword from Sinland for the moment and just say a few upbeat words on behalf of some treasures that are near and dear to me.
I have a Reader's List comprised of folks that frequent my columns and often write in to express their own views on whatever topic I happen to be covering at the time. These individuals remain an enormous source of encouragement to me in a hostile world. They recognize my calling and, more importantly, they have a healthy understanding of scripture and a discerning Christian worldview. They realize that my efforts, like theirs, are not designed to please men, which regularly puts the lot of us at odds with the ecclesiastical mainstream - a vocational hazard for any biblically minded Christian that dares to face today's stampede of stupidity with scriptural directives. It often takes 10 letters of encouragement from them collectively to negate the emotional effects of one diatribe I receive from an angry and confused brother or sister in Christ - like the dear lady who began her email message to me last week with: "You sir, are an ass..."
Those on my Reader's List, who receive links to my new articles, have been a glorious gift to me from God and though I try as best I can to thank them for their kind and generous words each time they write, I am always left at a loss as to how I might adequately reciprocate their kindness, compassion and support. Maybe this is a start.
The list is comprised of people from all walks of life and all parts of the world - from seminary students to soldiers - housewives to homeschoolers - Sunday school teachers to public school teachers - physicians to musicians - college professors to film producers - coaches to commentators - lecturers to researchers - authors to publishers - Presbyterian pastors to Baptist preachers - Eastern Orthodox to Anglican - Church of God to Church of Christ - from Tennessee to Texas - California to New York - Florida to Alaska - England to New Zealand and Australia to Brazil.
They are a diverse group with several things in common, two of which are an uncompromising love for the Word of God and a burning conviction that the ever-growing biblical ignorance and apathy of Christians today is leading the 21st Church into rapid decline. Like me, they do not see sin as something best left unmentioned for the sake of unity and growth - that the most loving thing you can do for someone is tell them the whole truth, even if it risks the relationship. They understand that when people and their feelings take precedence over God and His Word, apostasy ensues and, if left unchecked, will spread like a cancer throughout the body while being heralded as "healing."
On those occasions when I become discouraged at the sheer magnitude of the mission, they share with me their own struggles along with a kind word and I am strengthened, knowing that I am not alone in this labor of love. Frankly, their stories of opposition, oppression, persecution and rejection often dwarf anything I have to face.
So, today I write something positive - something for them - a heart-felt expression of gratitude and appreciation for encouraging me through an otherwise thankless task, especially during those times between articles when I'd like to throw my hands up to it all and leave the heretics and herds to their own devices.
The strange thing is; I thought I was helping them. As it turns out, they were helping me.
Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective.
As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print. Paul may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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