Oops! It happened again!
I recently attended a women's retreat and the speaker veered away from God's Word in a huge way. In her opening introduction to her presentation of the weekend, she said, "You can memorize God's Word all you want, but unless you apply it to your life, it won't do any good!"
And I sat in the audience and thought, "Hmmm. Really?"
Her entire presentation that weekend was all about application. Verses were aplenty, but they were nearly all taken out of context. Quite frankly, the Word wasn't used during her talks, It was only presented to us in list format, with her supposed application following. Not one time did this speaker ask us to open our Bibles. Not one time did she open hers. She had her notes neatly typed out in front her and that was her platform. I was so disappointed I nearly cried. Then I berated myself for not bringing my Kindle instead of my print Bible so that I could not only read the Bible on the Kindle, but I could play Scrabble during her presentations since they were of no value to me.
Instead, I sat there with my closed Bible on my lap and got beaten up the entire weekend. And so did the ladies I took with me. And that was the hardest part.
Herein lies the dilemma of human behavior. Many teachers and leaders, pastors included, get an idea of what Christianity looks like and they tailor their teaching to that look. They have to set aside God's Word in order to accomplish this, however. They are so focused on human behavior, instead of God's Word, that they actually end up abandoning the Word to accomplish what they perceive as better results in the behavior of their listeners! Oh, my.
Let me tell you something about God's Word. You cannot change Its effects on your life by any decision you may or may not make. God has plans for His Word. It is God's Word and these are His plans. Even in my great power and might as a human being (sarcasm dripping here), I cannot change God's plan for His Word. God states, "So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth. It will not return unto me void, but it will accomplish that which I please." Isaiah 55:11 In this, He was comparing His Word to rain and snow and how they water the earth to bring forth fruit later on. And rain and snow do that every year. We know this since we have not all starved to death.
Some might argue that we have to make the decision to follow God's Word, hence the importance of application. Really? Is that what Jeremiah did when he decided not to talk about God any more? Yep, that's right. He was being so horribly persecuted, belittled and mocked that he decided that was it, he just wouldn't talk about God any more. What happened when Jeremiah made the decision to stop talking about God? Jeremiah 20:9 says, "Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His Name." So, that was Jeremiah's big decision. He had it all under control. Human decision - the power within - you decide - it's up to you. But, reading the rest of the verse, we see a different outcome, "But His Word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding It back, and I could not."
Wow! God's Word was like a burning fire in Jeremiah and he grew weary of NOT talking about It, even in the face of brutal persecution. Jeremiah's decision had nothing to do with God, but it had everything to do with his humanity. But, God's Word is too much for humanity. Jeremiah could not fulfill his decision. He could not hold back. God was in control. His Word had so sharply penetrated Jeremiah that he could not hold back even though he tried with all his might.
To teach a group of ladies that they can memorize God's Word without result is teaching them a lie. God's Word is alive, and powerful, and will do what God sends It to do. Jesus is the Word.
Little by little, teachers and speakers such as this woman chip away at faith in Christ and put their faith in Secular Humanism, which causes them to focus on human behavior. The dilemma of human behavior is that each person gets the freedom to be grown through sanctification at their own rate of growth, which God controls. We are to conform to His image, not one that a church or individual has outlined for us. Human behavior is very deceptive; we see one certain action and reach conclusions from that action and those conclusions are not always accurate. Actually, they are rarely accurate.
For example, I wear miniskirts - almost exclusively. I have found them to be the most comfortable with the best fit, so that's what I consciously shop for. Does that look like Christianity? Aren't I being a little "non-pastor's-wife-ish" by doing that? Aren't I ruining a testimony of Christ in my community? Aren't I even being liberal?
You see, I'm under 5' tall. Miniskirts come all the way down to my knees, and even lower. They are perfect for short people! (Well, not all short people, maybe, but certainly women who want to wear skirts.)
Teachers and preachers, stick ONLY to God's Word. You, and your listeners, would be much better off if you abandoned the "application process" altogether and just give out the Word. God will handle it from there. He knows what to do. He knows where It needs to grow. Stick to the Word. Only the Word. Your faith will increase, your listeners will grow, and you will come to realize that your applications weren't all that great to begin with.
I appreciated Dr. Daniel Davies at the annual GARBC conference a few years ago. He was the main speaker of the conference and after each message, instead of making application, he said, "This is how this passage of Scripture impacted my life," and proceeded to tell us how he, personally, had grown by studying the given passage. And then he closed in prayer. And, ever since, I have gone back to the passages he taught again and again and learned and grown more. And, yes, I did thank him.