It was supposed be a very specific YouTube search. I was looking for one thing, but in the small frames on the right side of the screen it was as if YouTube was calling me somewhere else. Should I? Should I click one of those videos that made me feel like it was made personally for me? I wanted to look for a video on Count Zinzendorf (a famous Pietist), but on the screen next to the Count was a Catholic Priest giving his perspective on Methodism. In another video a famous Calvinist was about to criticize Arminianism. Should I or shouldn’t I? Naturally I did – I watched them both, and even a third.
This is not a blog about YouTube. Most of us know the power of our video driven culture. Rather, this is a comment about a tragedy – the tragedy of Christian misdirection. Perhaps you’re thinking that I got misdirected by looking at random videos, but that’s not the misdirection I’m talking about. Rather, here’s what I mean by Christian misdirection: too many of us, especially pastors, spend our time attempting to rally the troops against other churches and other Christian denominations. The goal of course is to get people to know “the truth.” Good pastors try to help their people know their Bibles and their Traditions. However, in our pursuit of truth (and if you know me at all, you know that truth seeking is very important to me) is it possible that we have directed people the wrong way? Is it not possible that we have focused so much on being “right” (in contrast to other churches), that we have given our people a false idea of what it takes to enter and enjoy the kingdom of heaven?
It’s amazing to me how many clicks some of the famous pastors have on YouTube. I’ve always wondered how they get them, and I know that much of their popularity comes from book deals and various publications. Large churches breed a large number of clicks, etc. That’s fine, and I want people to listen to good Bible preachers and teachers. However, I think we all know about the power of controversy and the temptations that come by attracting a large audience. Yet large crowds never impressed Jesus. Again and again He focused upon personal faith and character, and He often walked away from the masses.
The real issue in the Christian life and in Christian ministry is not being “right.” All of us make errors and although it’s important to be sound in our teaching and preaching, it is far, far more important to be loving and to encourage our people to enter into a deep knowing, even an intimacy, of and with Jesus Christ. When the Lord calls our name, He won’t ask us about our doctrine, but He will affirm or deny our relationship with Him. Consider His words in Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’