What’s Wrong with Being Seeker-Centered?
by Greg Koukl
I am astounded in many ways by why it is so difficult for us as a church to simply follow the directions. Why is that so hard? I’m talking about how the church comports itself and how it marshals its efforts in order to have the kind of impact that God intends it to have in the world. It is not even clear to me anymore that the church – speaking in generalizations now, and there are always exceptions –even knows what it is all about, what it is meant to do.
I wrote our letter to our Stand to Reason people for December about reflections on the nature of the church, our task in the world, and what Stand to Reason has done this year to help other Christians to fulfill that obligation. I start out with a simple reflection that at Christmas time there are these wonderful hymns. If we look at them, they are absolutely stunning if we pay attention to the words, and we can’t help but worship when we speak the words that are expressed in these hymns. They are so much about God and His purpose, and spoken in such sublime language. There is no “I” and “we” in those hymns. The focus is all on God. Then after Christmas we go back to singing about ourselves, our experience, and how lucky God is to love us, because now we feel wonderful. I think, Is this what the church thinks it is about? Does the church think this is about them? Do we think that God is about us? I certainly get that feeling from the songs.
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A couple of weeks ago, I was teaching a group on the issue of decision making and the will of God – a good group of people, by the way. I enjoyed my time with them, but part of what we do in that teaching is go through the passages that are pressed into service as prooftexts for a faulty view, and I actually get people to read the passages. Remember, never read a Bible verse. And if somebody quotes a Bible verse to you to prove a point, it really is valuable for us to go back and look at the verse to find out if it makes the point.
We were looking at Romans 8. The passage talks about being led by the Spirit and frankly, we have a 20th century definition of that term and we read it back into the text in a way that Paul never intended. How do I know that? Because I have read the text. He uses the phrase twice, once in Romans 8 and the other in Galatians 5, and he means the same thing in both cases, and he does not mean getting nudges or indications by the Spirit as to what we should do next. That is not what Paul means. He means something different.
So, I am going through the passage and I read the paragraph to give the context and flow of thought. I asked the question, “What does Paul mean by the phrase ‘led by the Spirit?’” That’s the question, isn’t it? It is a Biblical term. What does the Biblical writer mean by the term? Not what does 20th Century Christianity mean by it? We get that wrong all the time…