Whether it is a pastor, a church or an individual Christian, the person who “runs close to the edge” will eventually go over the edge. The crash that results is always injurious if not totally catastrophic.
When a Christian finds himself close to the edge, you can be sure that three things are in the mix. You’ve heard of the world, the flesh and the Devil. Well, they are all real and all three are problems.
Since the world loves to play loose, they deny the reality of this risky behavior and seek to defy the odds of getting hurt. Why on earth would we give in to their pressure and copy their methods of operation? It makes no sense at all.
The flesh in which we all live can be lured to the edge where it should not go. What feels good should not define us. Our emotions can play tricks on us. “In my flesh, dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18) should not be forgotten.
The Devil is a powerful adversary. He is not our friend. He is an unscrupulous monster who will use anybody he can anyway he can to hurt everybody he can. If we hang out where he hangs out, we can easily predict the outcome. It will not be a good result.
1. Edgy behavior invites crisis. You’ve no doubt heard its shrill voice defending itself. “It’s just a beer, not hard liquor.” “It’s only marijuana, not heroine.” “This is the twenty-first century, not the nineteenth century.” “Your standards are puritanical and judgmental.” “You’re a legalist.”
The list is familiar and we know the routine. Edgy behavior has a mind of its own. It wants to do what it wants to do. It flaunts its freedom in pursuit of whatever glittering thing catches its eye. It resists authority and rejects wisdom. It plunges forward blindly, apparently oblivious to the impending danger.
If this edginess could be found only among the world’s crowd, that would be bad enough. But today it is the way of an enormous portion of the professing Christian crowd.
2. Edgy ministry also invites crisis. The desire to find an easy way often precedes the edgy approach to ministry. Its advocates offer a “relationship with Christ” with little or no emphasis on conversion.
Their generic preaching may appear good, but it is very short on specifics. Doctrine is given a wide berth. Church gets reduced to a minimal matter. Clamoring “generational” voices resist whatever the last generation did in pursuit of “we are here now.”
When Elvis hit the national stage and the Beatles migrated across the Atlantic, almost every Baptist preacher in America raised his voice in opposition to rock ’n’ roll music.
Today many of those same churches have either gone rock ’n’ roll, or they are “edging” their way in that direction. Soon after the music, the rest of the ministry will adjust itself to accommodate the edgy mindset.
Where once a solid church existed, now only a shell of its former self remains. In some cases the church crashed into oblivion and no longer exists at all.
“Running close to the edge” may be comfortable for the moment, but inevitably the crisis will come.
Without an unchanged Bible, authority is diminished, debated and despised.
With a watered-down pulpit, the world’s liberalism finds lodging in the pews.
With the lifestyle of the church folks trending much like the community at large, the influence of the church wanes toward nothingness.
With the witness of the folks only an occasional “sharing of their faith” with no emphasis on winning souls, the town plunges aimlessly unredeemed and unchanged on its way to Hell.
So often a church or ministry that promotes itself as “on the cutting edge” is doing nothing less than “running on the edge.” Their coded lingo may be clever, but it does not mask their agenda very well.
Folks, when I travel through the mountains, “the edge” is not where I walk. When I drive on the street, I try to keep a safe distance from “the edge” lest I wreck my car.
In so many ways for life and for ministry, “the edge” is not a good location in which to abide.