CANCEL CULTURE IN THE CHURCH (no.3)

Joe Price

Jesus teaches that until we remove the beam from our eye, our hypocrisy hinders us from removing the speck out of our brother’s eye (Matthew 7:1-5). So, as we rebuke and expose the cancel culture environment of this present age, it is only right that we consider whether we contribute to a cancel culture in the church (Ephesians 5:11, 8-17).

Are you cancelling the authority of Jesus? This cancelling happens when we elevate personal opinions, think so’s, traditions, and relationships above a “thus saith the Lord” (Matthew 28:18; Colossians 3:17). In this cancel culture, men’s words and wisdom prevail over the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11; Mark 7:1-13).

There are only two possible sources to call on to approve what we believe and practice religiously, heaven or men (Matthew 21:23-25). If we loose where the Lord has bound or bind where the Lord has loosed, we pervert the gospel, damage our souls, and endanger others (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 John 9-11; Colossians 2:16-23).

Many Christians do not know how to establish and apply Bible authority, and why it matters. They have been fed a steady diet of the soft-peddled gospel that lacks convicting application (2 Timothy 4:2-4). Some ridicule divine patterns (2 Timothy 1:13; Philippians 4:9). The local church’s work to preach the gospel, edify saints, and relieve needy saints has been distorted, turning churches into community centers, recreational venues, and social relief agencies (Ephesians 4:11-16). The culture that cancels Bible authority is not from God; it is from this world (James 3:13-18).

Are you cancelling gospel preaching? Paul was “set for the defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:17). It seems some brethren are set upon silencing preachers who preach the gospel (2 Timothy 4:5). They don’t like the preacher’s tone (“too negative”). They don’t like the length of his sermons (“too long”). They don’t like what he preaches (“too specific”). Some say preachers should not use political illustrations or apply God’s word to political situations, supposing this only alienates people (Truth be told, such partisans are already alienated from God). The idolatrous priest Amaziah tried to cancel God’s prophet using distortions and lies (Amos 7:11-13). But Amos kept speaking what the Lord said to him (Amos 7:14-17). The apostle Paul could preach to political people (Acts 24:25; 26:24-32; Philippians 1:12-13). So can we.

Shall we be silent and no longer call out sin in the media because they have become polarized and powerful? Shall we be silent and no longer expose denominational errors because sincere people sit in their pews? Shall we silence the word of God by calling into question the motives of every gospel preacher who speaks God’s truth to the powerful, the elite, and the “woke” among us? Nay verily, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). The “woke” culture has already crept unawares into the churches when we oppose contending for the faith (Jude 1:3-4).

Are you cancelling reverence of worship? Understanding that our clothing does not define reverence, we should also understand it reflects our respect or lack thereof for the occasion (cf. Matthew 22:12-13). If we do not clothe our hearts with reverence in our worship assemblies, it matters not whether we wear a suit and tie or coveralls.             

There has been an undeniable trend toward a less formal, more casual approach to worship for some time now. We can see it in both attire and attitude. While worship is not stilted, it ought to be reverent (John 4:23-24; 1 Corinthians 14:26, 33, 40). Our priority for gathering as the church is to worship God. Since we seek His holy presence when we worship, we should approach Him with sacred honor and deferential respect (Hebrews 12:28; Revelation 5:14).

Are you cancelling brotherly kindness? Speaking truth to each other does not remove the duty to do so with kindness (Ephesians 4:25, 31-32). It is not one or the other (truth or kindness), but both. It is a sin to season our words with derision, arrogant conceit, self-righteous condescension, and bitter hatred (Colossians 4:5-6). Such words corrode brotherly kindness and erect a wall of resistance not easily removed.

Cancel culture’s objective is to silence opposition. Christians resist it (Acts 4:19-20). When it rears its ugly head in the church, it silences Bible authority, demonizes gospel preaching, reduces reverence for God, and smothers loving kindness. -end -