This article comes from the pen of a faithful brother in Christ, Steve Higginbotham. His words are insightful and worthy of serious reflection.
Have you ever noticed how we sometimes give "correct" answers instead of "truthful" answers when we find ourselves in certain settings? I once asked a high school Bible class if they were running late for school and only had time to do one of the following things, which would they do: Would they read their Bible or would they comb/brush their hair? Want to guess how they answered? They all said they'd read their Bible. Really? I think they offered what they thought was the "correct" answer, but it wasn't the "truthful" answer.
It reminds me of the Bible class teacher who once asked her class, what has four legs, scurries around on the ground collecting nuts, has a long bushy tail, and can climb trees really well? After a long silence, one boy finally answered by saying, "Well, it sounds like a squirrel, but I'm going to go ahead and say Jesus." You see, he was searching for what he believed to be the "correct" answer rather than the "truthful" answer.
Oh, but it's not just children who answer this way. Adults do as well. For example, what if I asked you to give me the top five core values of your congregation, how would you answer? I dare say that I would get something very similar to the following list:
Those answers all sound like "correct" answers to me, and I hope they're "truthful" too, but let's make sure we're not deceiving ourselves.
Is evangelism really a core value? Apart from paying a preacher to preach, how is the congregation involved in evangelism? How many Bible studies with non-Christians are currently ongoing within your congregation? How many Bible studies does your congregation conduct in a year? What are the present plans you have to evangelize your community? Could evangelism be a more "correct" answer than a "truthful" answer?
Is Bible study really a core value? Does attendance significantly drop off for Bible study as opposed to Sunday A.M. worship? When is the last time you conducted a Bible study in your home with your family or with friends? Do you prepare by reading and studying for your Sunday and Wednesday Bible classes? Could Bible study be a more "correct" answer than a "truthful" answer?
Is prayer really a core value? When's the last time your congregation had a "prayer meeting?" Are the prayers that are offered timely and relevant, or do they follow a memorized, familiar form? Do you ever complain about the length of a prayer if it goes over 5 minutes in length? Would a visitor characterize your congregation as a "house of prayer" after visiting with you for a month? Could prayer be a more "correct" answer than a "truthful" answer?
Is helping the needy really a core value? What plans have been made to meet their needs this year that weren't in place last year? When was the last brainstorming session concerning how to minister to the needy? What have you learned over the past five years with regard to benevolence that has led to a change in the way you do it? Or are you doing benevolence in the same way you did 20 years ago? Could helping the needy be a more "correct" answer than a "truthful" answer?
Is Biblical worship really a core value? Is your worship more "time conscious" than "God conscious?" Would a long sermon be less tolerated than a shallow sermon that gets you out "on time?" Do you sit comfortably knowing you don't call your preacher "Reverend," don't use instrumental music, and don't sprinkle babies, as your mind wanders during your prayers, songs, and sermons? Could Biblical worship be a more "correct" answer than a "truthful" answer?
My point in writing this article is not to criticize anyone but to challenge you to be more honest with yourself. Maybe we need to be more "truthful." Maybe we need to be more authentic. Maybe we need to make some changes so that our core values will really be our core values.
II Corinthians 13:5 - "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you are disqualified..."