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Gamaliel's Desk
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Mean & Wild
I just finished reading Mark Galli’s new book, Jesus Mean and Wild, and I think he’s off to a good start. Unfortunately, like most modern writers, he does not go quite far enough, and certainly not as far as I have gone in exploring the real mean and wild Jesus. I have grown weary of the namby-pamby approach to ministry so often espoused by those self-esteem gurus of laissez faire, anything goes Christianity like John McArthur, John Piper, and D. James Kennedy. Mark Galli has finally found the Jesus of the Gospels that these maudlin ministers of meek and mild have missed all these years.

Jesus Mean and Wild tells of a Jesus who is much like myself. Eschewing any pretense of being nice, I seek instead to administer loving rebuke to those in need. The loving thing to do to a child about to touch a hot stove is to shout out a warning. And that is the focus of my ministry – shouting out timely warnings to those who are about to be burned by sin. And when the shouted warning doesn’t work, just like Jesus wielded the whip in the temple, I bring out the heavy hardware to keep people from turning God’s house of worship into a pagan bacchanal like they do in those “praise and worship” services at most contemporary services. It is my duty to loving drive out all of the insidious influences that infect the innocent purity of our devotions including contemporary music, lewd clothing and tattoos.

But modern conveniences aren’t the only thing that needs to be driven out. Just like Achan’s sin that cause the death of his fellow Israelite’s we need to purge out the sin of doctrinal error. Every time the twin demons of compromise and syncretism pay a visit to our church, it is time for me to drive them from our church just like Joshua took care of Achan and his family. Just last month I had to fire another Sunday School teacher for attempting to use one of the modern per-versions of the Bible in reading to the little ones. Doesn’t she know how impressionable these young minds are and how easily they are led astray? Even worse, letting her bring her forbidden Babylonianish trappings into our sanctuary had the potential to bring down the whole church, just like that wicked, selfish Israelite of old. If I come across as cruel and insensitive, it is ultimately for the good of the whole church so we are not all brought down by her sinfulness. Ultimately, I’m being cruel to be kind in the last measure.

So when I shout warnings about the dangers of movies, contemporary Christian music, card playing and immodest dress, I am attempting to save them from a worse fate than the momentary unpleasantness at having to listen to my rants and screeds. I am seeking to rescue them from the certain doom that is to befall them, their families, and the innocent bystanders in the church. By slapping a Playstation 2 out of the hands of a witless teen-ager I may be preventing the next Columbine massacre. When I jerk the earbuds of an iPod from the ears of a hapless youngster listening to the latest John Reuben song, I just might be saving him from a gruesome death in a gangland shooting. And parents should thank me from the bottom of their hearts for sternly rebuking their daughters for wearing flattering makeup and clothing that highlights their nubile feminine assets because I just may be saving that child from an unwanted pregnancy that could bring grief to her whole family.

Yes, my ministry is just like that of our Lord. When I spot the merest wick of smoldering passion lighting the eyes of a church member I stamp it out. And for those reeds who have been bruised by their flirtations with the world, I bend them over until they are broken before God in abject shame, guilt and repentance. And where Jesus spent his ministry rebuking the overly religious and self-righteous, I have found my calling to rebuke the sinners, the defiled and those who would adulterate the faith once delivered to the saints with all manner of vile modern innovations. I will make sure that every lukewarm carnal Christian knows the error of their ways and drive them like cattle to follow the straight and narrow. My mean and wild side could keep temptation at bay and save the souls of many a wayward sinner – if only they would heed my message and mend their ways.

I was very encouraged to see that Pastor Gamaliel found his version of the Purpose Driven Life in Jesus Mean and Wild. As independent and fundamental as PG is, he still needs a paradigm for ministry. Albeit in this case from a non-approved source. Everyone has a few skeletons in the closet. If PG puts four Sword of the Lord’s from 1976 under his pillow for two nights all will be well and any damage undone.

But the reason I write is to compliment PG for not yielding to the temptation to demonstrate the Jesus attribute of Love to his congregation. As the Bible says, “Love is a many splendored thing” but PG rightly knows that only deity is qualified to demonstrate love to humans. PG knows the world is wrong when it says, “It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved.” The Bible (KJV 1611) says, “Rather be safe than sorry.” Since PG knows the safety of legalism, he will never be sorry. Love is way too risky and PG clearly stands against hellish games of risk. Or does he???

I am confident that PG is a modern day model of Pastoral ministry. Again as the Bible says, “Give people an inch and they will take a mile.”
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