It can be heartwarming to witness the reactions of toddlers dropped off by their parents in a nursery or a classroom. Often separation anxiety sets in when a child clings to the familiar embrace of a parent. Other times the child scampers off without a second thought. Though Shakespeare’s Juliet views parting as “such sweet sorrow,” a Dan Hicks country song asks, “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?”
That eighties Madonna music contains lyrics contradicting scripture should certainly come as no surprise. The glaring flaw in Papa Don’t Preach is that Papa should have supported his daughter’s decision to raise his grandchild from the start. But this is not the only problem. The underlying assumption that lost souls wandering far from God would not benefit from a little preaching is absurdly false. Rebels suffer from a lack of truth, not an overabundance.
The notion that God wants every Christian to enjoy worldly wealth is clearly disputed in the lifestyle and teaching of Jesus. Yet every Sunday in congregations all over America, we hear preachers spew such nonsense without ever doing anything to stop it.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “government?” Most people think about laws, politicians, taxes, and debates. Few people think about Jesus. When the Bible says the government will be upon His shoulder, it means that one day Jesus will reign on His throne perfectly forever.
One December evening in the early seventies, some of the teachers at my church conspired with my parents to dress me in a white sheet and set me in front of the entire congregation, something I had never experienced during any of my seven long and illustrious years. They made the room as dark as possible, knowing how much all seven year-olds love the dark.
American Christianity is uniquely susceptible to the watering down of doctrine as cunning teachers exploit the basic human desire for things like popularity, excitement, prosperity, and success. One can draw a crowd by offering a seat at the cool kids’ table, stirring up an emotional experience, or promising the worldly success Jesus neither gained nor sought.