Sometimes It Is Not Enough!

By Aubrey Belue

 

One of the earliest jobs my dad had was teaching school – he began while he was still in his teens, with a one room school in upstate Mississippi. Some of his students in the higher grades were as old and as big as he was, and more than one time he maintained discipline with the threat of a literal fist fight! He would tell me of a mother who brought her son to school and explained that he was very sensitive. She said, “whenever there is trouble, and discipline is called for, just hit the boy next to mine, and Junior will get the message.  There will be no need to actually punish him.” (To this day, I am not sure whether this actually happened, or was one of his “made up” experiences). Whatever, I’m here to tell you it will not always work.

Early in my preaching “career”, not much older than my dad was as a teacher, I was in a work in central Illinois, and a Methodist lady started attending. For some reason she became attached to me, and continually praised my efforts, coming up to me after every lesson to tell me how much she appreciated my stand for truth. Believing (and I still do) that my work included identifying and opposing every stripe of religious error, I started including in my material lessons on sprinkling, and the error of salvation by faith only, as well as one or two other fallacies the church she was with held to – and this continued for a number of months. No matter, she still held me high, and expressed her respect for me as a teacher who “taught the bible”.

After a while, it dawned on me that there was a disconnect between what “her church” believed, and the truths I advanced relative to those things. I had taken these issues in isolation, without being specific about who taught them. Eventually, I preached a lesson on Methodism, pointing out that the Methodist church taught sprinkling, faith only, instrumental music, and so on. That was the last time she commended my teaching, and soon after she quit attending… As long as I was “hitting the one next to her” (teaching without making a specific connection), she failed to get the message! When she realized these things had personal implications, her prejudices kicked in.

The lesson I learned? Teaching “general truth” falls short of the demands of gospel teaching! Biblically, teachers in the first century made it clear as to the application: “THOU ART THE MAN”….God doesn’t “blind side” folks, and neither should we. Becoming a disciple requires hard choices, and it does not help to withhold the implication of such alternatives. “Warning the wicked fromHIS wicked way” (Ezek 3:18-19) is an uphill fight if he doesn’t even know he is among the wicked!

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