In Vogue To Be Vague
We are told that in order to be effective, preaching must “relate the ambiguities of the New Testament to the complexities of modern society.” We are pretty sure we know what that means, and it isn't “shelling the corn and showing the cob.” But, in case you haven't noticed, it is now in vogue to be vague. We even know of two people who, after attending an entire series of gospel meetings, thought we were advocating interdenominational and not nondenominational Christianity. Although all the blame for this ought not to be put on the preacher, fifty years ago no one would have made such a mistake after attending one of our gospel meetings.
In truth, we are drifting and have no one to blame but ourselves. Wanting to have our ears tickled, we are accumulating to ourselves teachers in accordance with our own desires (II Timothy 4:3). In Matthew 11:7, the Lord, speaking about John the Baptist, asked the people of His day, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?” If asked that question today, many might answer, “We want to see a dandy dressed in three hundred dollar suits with matching shoes, along with gold chains, bracelets and diamond rings, using four hundred dollar words that impress but do not offend.”
Josiah Holland, who lived in the century before this one, knew the remedy for our current situation. He said: “God give us men. A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands; men whom the lust of office cannot buy; men who will not lie; men who stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous flatteries without winking; tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog; in public duty and private thinking.”
Real men are hard to find, and always have been. It has been said that in order to emphasize the difficulty of finding a man of integrity in ancient Athens, the Greek philosopher Diogenes lighted a lamp in the daylight and went searching for one. Years before this alleged event, Jerusalem could have been saved if one man of integrity could have been found within the city (cf. Jeremiah 5:1). Even the apostle Paul recognized the difficulty in finding a real man when he said, “for all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's” (Philippians 2:21).
May God give us men who are willing to use “great plainness of speech” (II Corinthians 3:12). At the same time, we pray there is enough spirituality left among churches of Christ that we don't slay all such plain speakers.