Does anybody ever read the warning label on products? Personally, I read them but I don’t give them much thought. I tend to lean on the side of common sense when it comes to using a product safely,especially in my line of work (construction).
Swindoll opens his 5th chapter with the idea and purpose behind warnings and he gives some warnings that it is best for the church not to ignore.
Clearly we enter a battle zone – true spiritual warfare – when we claim Christ as lord and determine to follow Him no matter what. We should not be surprised by conflict. We should expect it! (pg.151)
The Church needs to realize that the real battle is spiritual… and to complicate matters, our real enemy is invisible. (pg.151)
The enemy of our souls wants to tap into our own sinful natures so that he can drive a wedge between God and us. And that is why we in the church need a strong warning to awaken us to the reality that characterizes our times. (pg. 152)
It’s sad to say, but the majority of problems that face the church today do not come from the outside, they come from the inside. Have you ever been to a church business meeting? Have you ever held a position on a committee? Have you ever disagreed with another member on a theological view? If so, then in the words of Michael Feldman,” You’re itching for a fight!”
Sadly, this is nothing new either. Even in the first century church, Paul warns Timothy of “difficult times” ahead, and not only difficult times but also difficult people:
2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit,lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. – 2 Timothy 3:2-5 ESV
Swindoll makes every effort to portray the qualities of the individuals that Paul warns Timothy about in these verses. It is really a wake up call, because people began coming to mind as he described each one. Honestly I saw some of these characteristics played out through myself in times past, and that’s not a pleasing realization! I think if we’re honest, we will have to admit that we are part of the problem too. It’s easy to sit back and observe everyone else and their shortcomings but it’s ourselves and our motives that we need to scrutinize.
The final warning is to steer clear of dangerous areas. We need to avoid being “tolerant”. G.K. Chesterson says “Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions.” In our churches today, we have allowed Satan to drive divisions amongst us in the name of political correctness and tolerance. But we’re not supposed to straddle the fence. We allow sin to run rampant in our churches because we’re afraid to call anybody out on their sin because it might reveal our own. We should be striving for Godliness in our own lives as well as corporately as a church and in the 6th chapter, Swindoll leads us in that direction.
Quotations are from The Church Awakening, Charles Swindoll, Faith Words-Hachette Book Group, 2010