Purpose-Driven Drivel

More Thoughts on the Purpose Driven Movement in general(and in specific cases, such as my parents church)

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!

Jeremiah 23.1 (ESV)

On our Wednesday evening times of Scripture and prayer (yes, we still do that at Cornerstone; I know, it’s not seeker-friendly, purpose-driven, marketable or anything else for that matter… except dear to us few saints who gather for it and precious in the eyes of the Lord as we look to Him to feed us and hear us), we spent most of the summer weeks in Isaiah 66.2. Our meditations have focused on just one phrase from this verse:

But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.

And more pointedly, we’ve considered the final phrase for several weeks: “the one… who… trembles at my word.” What does it mean to tremble at God’s Word? Why should we tremble at His Word? It is necessary for a Christian to tremble at all before God? After all, doesn’t He love us with an everlasting love? So, there should be no cause for trembling, right?

Well, not from what we can see in Scripture. In fact, the Christian, among all peoples, should tremble at God’s Word more than any.

But that’s not why I was blogging this time around. But it does have to do with why I open with the words from Jeremiah 23.1. These words cause me to tremble at God’s Word. As a pastor/shepherd, I fear & tremble, lest I fail in my calling to honor my Lord in this great task of shepherding His flock. I fear I will fall short of His glory in proclaiming His Word to these dear, precious sheep who need to be fed this life-giving and life-sustaining word more than anything else. I fear that I will fall prey to the temptation to pursue man’s methods of producing a church rather than trust in God’s ordained means for living as a church. I fear and I tremble for myself.

But I also fear and tremble for others who have already failed, already fallen short, already succumbed to the pressure and allurement of growth and success and material prosperity and worldly acclaim and great numbers of worldly sinners lining the pews (oops, sorry, theater seats) of their churches. I fear and tremble that they have forsaken the gospel and the simple (read: “foolish”) preaching of the cross for the more alluring wisdom of this world and it’s desires and methods. I tremble when I think of what Jesus will say to them on that Day. I fear for the precious saints in these churches who fail to get fed the true meat of God’s Word because the pablum of the world and the therapeutic notions of secular psychology are vomited forth from the mouths of those who would dare to call themselves preachers.

The words of God in Jeremiah 23 cry out to be heard:“Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: ‘You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD.'” (ESV) These poor sheep who get forsaken, scattered (some even chased out of their congregations because they would dare to ask the preacher to preach from the Bible) will be the downfall of so many who have pursued this Purpose-Driven movement (and the other methodologies of the same ilk as Warrenism). And God says these so-called pastors will be attended to by God. All the while they think they’ll hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”; however, imagine their surprise when many of them will hear Him say, “You scattered my sheep and pursued wolves who barely even wore sheep’s clothing. You chased after goats and they liked you and thought you were marvelous because you preached messages they liked and you entertained them. They came to you in droves. They padded the budgets of your churches so you could build bigger and greater kingdoms with your name all over them. Depart from Me, for I never knew you.” How sad. How awful. How fearful; it makes me tremble.

But there is hope and promise here in Jeremiah 23: “Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD.” (ESV) The sheep will be cared for, if by no one else, then at the least, by God Himself. He will not let any of His true sheep escape His care. And He will raise up true shepherds, who will offer true pastoral ministry, not the latest business management techniques. The sheep will have no need of fear or of dismay, for there will be true pastoral care and counsel offered, not the next best thing from the spiritually therapeutic pens of Dobson or Minrith-Meier or whoever else comes along next. And joy of all joys, not one of the sheep will ever go missing! Not a one. Oh, they’ll be missing from the seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven, positive-thinking, be-all-you-can-be-in-this-your-best-life churches. They’ll be missing because they’ll find the few true churches who actually preach the gospel and open God’s Word and exposit it faithfully and powerfully because the Spirit of the Lord anoints the preaching of His Word.

This is written, not from some heart filled with braggadocio or pride, but from one that has been humbled by God’s grace and mercy, by His fathomless love for me and by His merciful calling of me into the pastorate. It is my heart’s prayer that God would keep me close to Himself through His Word; that He would not let me depart from it; that He would honor the preaching of His Word with power and working and transforming mercy. God may it be so!

Renew Your Church

Words: Kenneth L. Cober

Renew Your Church, her ministries restore, both to serve and adore.
Make her again as salt throughout the land, and as light from a stand.
‘Mid somber shadows of the night, where greed and hatreds spread their blight, O send us forth with power endued, help us Lord, be renewed.

Teach us Your Word, reveal its truth divine, on our path let it shine.
Tell of Your works, Your mighty acts of grace, from each page show Your face. As you have loved us, sent Your Son, and our salvation now is won,
O, let our hearts with love be stirred, help us Lord, know Your Word.

Teach us to pray, for You are ever near, Your still voice let us hear.
Our souls are restless till they rest in You, this the goal we pursue.
Before Your presence keep us still that we may find for us Your will,
And seek Your guidance every day, teach us Lord, how to pray.

Teach us to love, with strength of heart and mind, each and all, humankind.
Break down old walls of prejudice and hate, leave us not to our fate.
As You have loved and given Your life to end hostility and strife,
O, share Your grace from heaven above, teach us Lord, how to love.

(copyright©2003 Christian Publications, Inc) CCLI #432103


One Response

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