Here is a passage of scripture that’s often read in worship as a praise to God for those preachers of good news that God has sent our way:
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10.14-15, NIV ’11)
That sounds like music to my ears. As a preacher I want to shout out a big “Amen!” But…
If we would read on, the very next passage says “But not all the Israelites accepted the good news…” (Rom 10.16). As I was reading though Romans 10 the other day, that passage just stopped me. I couldn’t move on.
What dawned on me was difficult to grasp. Paul said it was some of the Israelites who rejected the good news. The Israelites…God’s people. Think about that. It seems almost incomprehensible that some of God’s people would reject a message–a good news (gospel) message–from a preacher sent to them by God. Incomprehensible or not, it’s true.
This got me thinking. If some of God’s people of the past could reject the word of God spoken to them, it’s possible and probable that some of God’s people of the present (the church) could also reject the word of God spoken to them. Of course, no one, including myself, ever wants to think that it could be us who are rejecting the word of God.
So here’s the deal. As Christians, we can be people who think we have discovered all the truth their is to discover, having nothing new to learn about the gospel. Such Christians, in my experience, become increasingly rigid and dogmatic about the Christian faith. Sometimes they even become cantankerous too. The more a Christian becomes like this the more they tend to read the Bible just to prove their own views against another. Such people have an invisible fence line that excludes anyone with a different view from the fellowship of God.
On the other hand, as Christians we can be people who have a strong faith in Jesus Christ but are humble enough to remain learners and know that some of our views regarding the Christian faith might be wrong. This requires us to never become complacent about what we’ve learned or where we are at in the way we live in the footsteps of Jesus. It requires an openness to God’s work through the Holy Spirit as we pray, read scripture, join in fellowship with other Christians, and listen to other voices so that we can hear a word from God that we have yet to hear.
May God help us to remain open enough to accept a new word from him!