Enoch and Noah are said to have walked with God. What does it mean to walk with God? Can we do good things and not walk with God? Can we be religious and not walk with God? Can we walk with God and still sin? What did Jesus mean when he said that he came for the sick, not the well? The truth is, I would rather pastor ten sinners struggling with habits and sin patterns who yearn to walk with God over one hundred seasoned believers whose greatest sin struggle in life is to make sure they get their thirty minutes of Bible reading in every day, and not just fifteen or twenty. What if I missed a day of reading, but spent the day reflecting on what I had read the day before? For the sinner yearning to walk with God that would be an incredible victory. For the seasoned believer there would be guilt because they hadn't met their quota. They would believe that they somehow failed God. If they are told that they don't need to read their Bible every day they believe that is just making excuses for sin. For the seasoned believer this discussion just diverted into a discussion over whether or not believers need to read their Bible every day and how long is long enough. Or, they just quit reading, writing me off as soft on sin. My illustration just caused them to miss the very point I was trying to make, which just goes to prove my point. My only consolation is that I am in good company. It was Jesus who said to his unclean disciples, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that 'seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand."
Is it any wonder that new believers get frustrated when they hear the kinds of "sins" seasoned believers agonize over? Did the wine Jesus made and drank really contain alcohol? Is watching the evening news a moral responsibility or a moral failure for the believer? Is Rock and Roll evil? Is it wrong for a Christian to take drugs for mental illness? Is mental illness a sin issue? Is it compromising our faith to cancel Sunday evening services in favor of home groups? How long is too long for men's hair? How short is too short for women's skirts? Is it a sin for a woman to wear pants? Does a woman have to have her head covered when she comes to church? If so, what constitutes a covering? Is it a sin for a man to wear a hat in church? I'm just getting started. Over the past forty years of ministry I have heard every one of these debates and myriad more just like them. To the new believer they don't even make sense. To the mature believer they are silly. To the seasoned believer they are crucial to the question of what pleases God, but they totally miss the point as to what it means to walk with God
Jesus sat in the homes of Pharisees, but he never became a Pharisee. Modern day Pharisees like to hear preaching against sin. They like to feel a little sting of guilt once in a while. The modern Pharisee is like the church member who told the pastor every Sunday, "You really gave it to them today preacher." Modern Pharisees justify their own judgmental attitude as commitment to the Word. They clearly see the sins and failures of others. Or to use Jesus words, they are, "blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!" The little sting of guilt every once in a while convinces them that they are not Pharisees. The inane debates they have over what qualifies as sin convinces me that they are. And so I say again that I would rather pastor ten sinners struggling with habits and sin patterns who yearn to walk with God over one hundred seasoned believers who have failed to understand what it means to walk with God.
By His grace