Christians are called by God to stand firm on what the Bible says is true, no matter how counter-cultural, and no matter how odious to the spirit of the age. When Christians do this we are so often portrayed as being unpleasant or disagreeable, the very opposite of nice. We need to allow ourselves to be portrayed as not nice. We cannot afford to allow niceness to be a fruit of the Spirit along with the rest. It may be impossible to be nice when we stand with firm conviction on what the Bible says about marriage, about the value of unborn children, or any other area where culture conflicts with Scripture. We need to be okay with that, as long as the fruit of the Spirit is present in its place. If we are to be nice at all, we must first be full of love, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and the other character qualities that are genuinely reflective of the Spirit.
We’ve created a corporate America-like church, somehow buying into a false dichotomy between a Leadership Culture which produces leaders and a Discipleship Culture that produces disciples. Here’s what I mean: In American businesses, it’s about moving people from A to B, but has nothing to do with making people. We have one guy with the vision and a culture of volunteerism to help that one guy get his vision accomplished. It’s the genius with a 1000 helpers. So while churches may claim to have “leadership development programs,” what they really have are “volunteer pipelines” that are run by managers, not leaders.
Mike Breen writes an excellent commentary on the state of the church in America.
Since the main message of Scripture is the unfolding mystery of Christ, who reveals his Father and reconciles us to him, theology is a central concern of every believer. It would be odd if we told our spouse or other loved ones that we wanted to spend time with them and experience their fellowship regularly but did not want to know anything about them — their characteristics, accomplishments, personal histories, likes and dislikes, and plans for the future.
Yet when it comes to God, people often imagine that it is possible to have a personal relationship with God apart from theology. In fact, some Christians assume that knowing doctrine and practical living are competing interests. The modern dichotomy between doctrine and life, theology and discipleship, knowing and doing, theory and practice has had disastrous consequences in the life of the church and its witness in the world."
O Spirit of the living God,
in all the fullness of thy grace,
where’er the foot of man hath trod,
descend on our apostate race.
Give tongues of fire and hearts of love,
to preach the reconciling word;
give power and unction from above,
whene’er the joyful sound is heard.
Kenda Creasy Dean, “Almost Christian: What Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church”
There was always one man in the congregation to whom Calvin primarily directed his sermons. Whenever Calvin stood in the pulpit, he was toughest on this man. He never let this hearer off easily; he never let this man escape his evaluation. This man was present every time the Reformer preached. Indeed, he never missed a message. Still, this man was the one least impressed with the great theologian’s reputation and giftedness. Who was this targeted man?
It was none other than Calvin himself. He always had himself in view in his preaching. Calvin confessed that he, the preacher, “needs to be the first to be obedient to [the Word], and that he wishes to declare that he is not only imposing a law on others but that the subjection is in common and that it is for him to make a start.”"