A few years ago, I was visiting one of our WorldVenture missionaries in western Uganda. I spent the day encouraging and training pastors at their bible college. During our time together, it was obvious there was tension in the room. Something was going on. And so when I asked Dary about it at the break I found out that one of the pastors who was not there was openly living in a sinful relationship with one of the ladies in his church. I was obviously very surprised about this, and I wondered why the other pastors were not confronting him for his sin but instead choosing to avoid the issue.
Well, it all came down to culture. We know that cultures are very different and cultures are very complicated – rules and the requirements. Now in that culture you would never confront someone who was older than you especially someone in a higher position than you were. And so the pastors basically did nothing and decided to avoid the situation, which wasn’t working very well. See that’s something Dary and I knew we needed to speak into, and so we jumped in and talked about staying faithful to biblical commands and the requirements of godly leadership as spelled out in the bible.
So, after leading a discussion on the what the bible actually says about such issue, Dary and I went for a walk to let the group of pastors make a decision on what they were going to do. Because it’s a collaborative culture, they had to take the time to excruciatingly work through this issue together. They had to come up with a conclusion as a group to stick with it. So, this gave Dary and I a lot of time to walk the property of the bible college, to see all that he had been doing in the decades that he had been there and our church had been supporting him. We saw the classrooms, we saw the office, we saw the kitchen, we finally wondered and walked through the fields, and we saw the electric fence he put up to keep the elephants out of their crops – not something I’ve ever had to do. But that’s what they had to do and it was kind of fascinating.
We wondered down to the river. We eventually made our way down the river behind the college. We saw children playing in the water, we saw several river washing their clothes on the river banks. And I asked him about the river and if the water ever flowed higher than what we were seeing now because it looked like it based upon the riverbanks. Now Dary explained that in the rainy season this river would flow so high that such a strong and high current that unsuspecting people would be caught downstream and drown in the raging waters.
So, after an hour of the pastors deliberating about their situation they finally called us back in and they told us that they as a group had decided to confront the man about his sin. So, I took a few minutes to thank them for their faithfulness of the obedience of scripture and I talked about the river behind them. And I also opened up about the struggles we were having in our American culture, our American church culture, and the sinful practices that were infiltrating the American church. Things that were going against God’s clear commands. I gave them this picture to talk about the challenges of staying biblically faithful when the currents of culture were bearing down on them. And I said, “You know when you walk into that stream right now, it’s only just up to your ankles, it probably feels good, that cold, cold, cold rushing water around your feet on a hot day right? But you know as the waters begin to rise it’s vital to make sure you’re standing on a solid foundation. Especially when the waters rise and the currents grow stronger and stronger.”
As leaders in God’s church we cannot let the swift current of culture to cause us to grow tired of standing strong on the foundation of God’s word. Friends you got to be honest – the cultural stream we’re living in has a swift current and unless we stand strong on God’s written word as our biblical foundation, we’ll eventually drift down stream and slowly but surely forsake the cause of Christ. Now I know that might seem extreme but if you think back to our history of conservative Baptist, our roots were born out of a desire to take a stand for biblical fidelity when the culture waters were rapidly moving int eh wrong direction.
So, I think as leaders every season we have to stop and we have to ask ourselves this question: where will we go to for our source of truth? Today the world is looking inside but we have a bible that’s faithful. We can put our trust in the culture, but it has moved far away from biblical truth. And friends, at times its even difficult to put our trust in the church because many churches have moved closer and closer to the culture’s ideas of truth. So, let’s put our hope and build our foundation on Christ and stand open His true words because that’s the only sure foundation to build upon and stand upon.
At our church every Sunday before we preach we all stand as a congregation and recite these words from 2 Timothy 3:16-17. “All scripture is inspired by God and its useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when were wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” Let’s ensure we regularly recommit ourselves to be biblically faithful so that generations to come will know the faith that we profess and what we stand upon which is God’s word.
Church Venture Northwest, Executive Director