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Poisoned platitudes from pandering preachers

Published 11:12pm Friday, July 12, 2013

By Rev. Chris Surber

It is much easier to poison someone if you hide the poison in a tasty treat rather than offer it to them from the bottle to drink. Only a fool would accept cyanide from a bottle labeled cyanide.

But countless people foolishly and willingly take poison-stuffed delectable treats every day, week in and week out, all across our land. Our poison is untruth, and our preferred method of ingestion is flattery.

We happily file into little country churches and huge auditoriums alike to be fed poetic prose from pandering preachers every week. Lacking the common discernment God gave a wise dog to avoid the housecat, we lap up whatever nonsense is spewed from the pulpit with neither intention nor ability to fact-check the flattery with the Bible.

We are won over by his winning million-dollar smile and by his beautiful, plastic wife. We are happy to be fed poisonous lies that are easy to swallow, because we are unwilling to ingest food that must be chewed.

As a result of our lack of discernment, millions in this land wrongly think they are Christians because they prayed a prayer at the end of a 30-minute broadcast of vain and empty clichés, and many who are Christians pressure faithful pastors to dumb down their preaching so as not to offend anyone with the “harder” truths of the Bible.

Sometimes I feel like an old-time encyclopedia salesman offering weighty knowledge but going door to door in Candyland. Nobody wants hard truth — only hard candy. They reject the Jesus who said you can’t be His disciple unless you are willing to take up your cross and follow Him. But they embrace Willy Wonka as a sort of sweet pseudo-messiah.

The church is weak because her preachers are weak. The church isn’t the church when she would rather beg for crowds than shout the truth.

Why are we more concerned with attention from the world than truth from God? If I were an unbeliever, seeking to know if the Bible is true, I would be outraged at a preacher who cared more about my attendance in his church than about my soul in Hell.

If we truly believe in Jesus and a godly life as evidence of His living inside us, then it is the worst kind of unkindness to shower the unbelieving world with phony smiles, instead of simply telling what we believe to be the truth.

Jesus said it this way: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15 ESV)

If you are not a Christian, be careful whom you listen to about Christianity. Inquire about Jesus from someone who loves you enough not to flatter you but who will give the truth in love.

If you are a Christian, demand that your shepherd delivers the truth and instructs in righteousness. If you are a preacher and too cowardly to proclaim the truth, go sell used cars.

The world doesn’t need more cyanide-filled candies. It needs Jesus.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at www.chrissurber.com.

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