By Jeremy Bialek
Special to Inside The Pew
The food is on the table, everyone is seated, and it’s time to eat…but first we bow heads and close eyes to thank God for providing another meal. My kids will occasionally open their eyes or peak through fingers during this offering of appreciation. After the “amen,” my son will announce, in an accusing tone, that his sibling(s) opened their eyes during the prayer, thus immediately indicting himself.
In a Sept. 19 article published on Thinking Faith, Pope Francis said that the church shouldn’t be “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, homosexuality, and contraception. While church leaders have set their collective sights on particular social issues, at times to the detriment of preaching the Gospel, doesn’t the media’s highlighting of this one statement taken from an immense interview covering countless subjects, amount to crying, “They opened their eyes during the prayer!” Church leadership is guilty in that our only obsession as believers ought to be Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith upon whom the Bible commands we fix our eyes (Hebrews 12:2), and sharing His beautiful declaration – a Gospel of grace. The church’s failure to do so properly has left generations without a proper understanding of what Christ did and promised to do for us. Still, who started this fire?
Often the church is reacting instead of leading, but (while at risk of sounding defensive) can you blame church leadership for reacting to the obsession of culture with these same issues? Each of the issues Pope Francis mentions has been argued before the Supreme Court, is backed financially by our government (to the point of even lobbying for these “rights” overseas), and receives millions of dollars in promotion from the television & movie entertainment industry plus the news media. Yes, those who oversee the church should be as concerned about murder, heterosexual immorality, and materialism (sins that likewise share in the windfall of lavish media promotion). Yet, it is reported that our country is one of only four nations in the world to legalize abortions after viability and threatens to withdraw funding from states or countries unless they remove restrictions on those who perform abortions. So, who is more obsessive about the subject – those for it or those against it?
A pastor is a shepherd. The Word is clear that shepherds are supposed to feed and protect the flock. Too often our pulpits have spent so much time in protection mode that the sheep have forgotten what the bread of life & living water taste like. That said, to only feed the sheep and not warn them when the world sends more and more wolves, lions, and bears to devour the truth about sin, its consequences, and impending judgment, is, in fact, to close our eyes when we were charged with being watchmen. I agree with Pope Francis that balance is needed. It’s just that the world’s view of balance welcomes changing what we believe and silencing our voices.
Jeremy Bialek lives in Indianapolis, where he has served as the Pastor/Senior Elder of Indianapolis Christian Fellowship since 2008. Jeremy has a Bachelor of Science from Butler University & a Master of Science from Syracuse University. He is married and has seven children. Follow him on Twitter @pastorbialek. Learn more about ICF at www.icfonline.us