Sunday, December 13, 2009

Give 'Em What They Want

Matthew 11:16-19
(16) "But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
(17) "'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.'
(18) For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.'
(19) The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds."

There is a school of though that churches should be set up to give people what they want. If people feel like they need help with their marriages then they should teach about marriage. If people need help with parenting then the church should focus on that. And so on.

There is some truth to this. We don't preach to junior high students the same way we preach to the elderly in the rest home. Our language and focus will naturally be different. If it isn't then the preaching is not going to be effective for one or both of the crowds. We need to "exegete our audience," to borrow a phrase from Haddon Robinson.

However, this passage tells us a vital truth about human nature. People don't really know or want what is best for them. We all think we know what is best, but we are actually quite fickle and our hearts are unreliable. The people in Jesus' day wanted Messiah to come. Who wouldn't with the way their lives were under Roman rule?

The problem is that they didn't recognize who God sent. He sent John the Baptist and they were looking for Benny Hinn. Then He sent Jesus and they wanted an ascetic like John the Baptist. I would maintain that the problem was with the message. What they wanted was a conquering king who looked like a conquering king.

Let's be careful as we sit under the teaching of God's Word in our churches. Maybe, just maybe, as our pastors go through their teaching of the Word we can trust that the Holy Spirit is leading them to teach us what we need, even if it is not what we want.

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