Andy Hynes is a PhD candidate at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Follow him @ABHYNES on Twitter.
We live in a society that looks in every direction for assistance, help, and satisfaction. We look to magazines, TV, movies, and the Internet to sooth our hurts, burdens, and disappointments. When problems become greater, we turn to the “professionals” and seek their assistance in calming and settling our hurts, burdens, and disappointments.
We are conditioning people to distrust the sovereignty and sufficiency of Christ. Jesus is superior in the things pertaining to salvation and morality, but is He not sufficient and sovereign over everything else???
So what happens is a person gets on a kick for a lifestyle change, and when they have found their identity in that change, it becomes the sufficiency for that person. Now, is there anything wrong with personal change? No. But if we don’t see Christ as being sufficient for us before the change then He certainly will not be sufficient for us with the change. Consequently, when there is a “positive” result from the change, then all of the sudden “God gets the glory,” when all the while there was no glorying in Christ before the change.
Is Christ sufficient to help us find our identity?
What about in preaching? If Christ is not sufficient and you think the Gospel cannot do it by itself, then you being to help. What do I mean? I mean if there are unnatural tendencies or even planned and manufactured gestures, movements, and speech patterns during your preaching, then you think that Christ is in need of your help. In my estimation, this is a direct result of a man-centered approach to salvation. The assumption is we must help someone to respond or convince someone to respond, then we take all efforts to do so. So, we produce unusually loud and planned moments in our sermons. We practice, prepare, and produce our sermons with exact precision, looking for a certain result. We look to evoke emotion through stories and video clips. Ultimately we’re saying Christ is not sufficient.
Is Christ and the Gospel sufficient in preaching?
What about counseling? Do we think Christ is sufficient for ALL our counseling needs? If we assume He is not, then we turn to manmade devices and thoughts to fill in the blank places that Christ did not fill in. We may be quick to push to medication or other things to fill the voids, calm us down, and meet our needs. We get discouraged and the commercials tell us exactly how we feel, and before we look to Christ, we look to a doctor. Why would we not stop and seek the Lord and discern from His Word? I wonder if Jesus sought the help of others in dealing with issues in His day?
Is Christ capable of meeting the deepest needs of our lives, even emotionally?
I see a connection between the thoughts man has toward the fullness of God’s sovereignty and sufficiency with their assessment of the above examples. If they think man-centered devices in preaching and counseling are acceptable or even needed, then there is usually a lower view of Christ’s sufficiency. If our identity is found in something or someone else, then we have a low view of the sufficiency and sovereignty of God.
What happens when the location of where we find our identity fails us, or we move on to another pastorate, or the medication and doctors cannot fix the problem?
I do not think we have seen the finality of the fallout of these things. We continue to foster in the lives of people a man-centered approach to all of life’s struggles, issues, and disappointments. We teach them that Christ is sufficient for salvation, but then you need to add all these other things to fill in the missing places.
We MUST turn people to Christ; we must turn people to Christ all the time and in all circumstances. We cannot make anyone listen or do, but we can be faithful in what we do as God grants us the privilege to serve Him!