I draw upon John Bevere’s book quite a lot. It usually stimulates me to comment on the point the author is making. I don’t really want to reproduce the book for readers of my blog. My thinking is my interpretation may be helpful and I may offer additional understanding about the point that Pastor Bevere is trying to make.
In Chapter 11, Bevere writes about the church today, the idea that people would rather hear good news than bad, even if the good news is not what people need.
Here is the honest truth [in my opinion]. We need to be rebuked when we are doing something wrong [maybe I should change we to I]. I need to feel convicted when I sin. I need to be corrected when I behave badly. Yes, it is hard to say, but I need to be disciplined when I get “off track” [you know what I mean].
Bevere uses an illustration that drives the point home so well and I am going to borrow from it heavily. Maybe the reason it strikes me so much is that I am sixty-five and I have had so many friends lately who have suffered with cancer.
It is about a man named Steve and it goes like this: Steve has been feeling poorly and his symptoms have been so bothersome that he has gone to the doctor and has been diagnosed as having cancer. The good news is that the cancer is in its earliest stages and he can have it removed and the cancer threat will be averted. The doctor says “We can remove it with a simple procedure.”
Steve is not happy about this need for surgery so he goes for a second opinion. The second doctor loves people. He just loves treating people and making them well and part of that process is giving them good news [even though bad news is the truth, in this case]. He discerns that Steve is upset about his cancer diagnosis and the need for an operation. He decides that he will not steer Steve that way; he tells Steve not to worry. Everything is going to be fine and he declares “Steve you are going to have a long great life ahead.”
What does Steve do? He leaves the second doctor very relieved. He is thinking “what a nice doctor; I am encouraged. I don’t have to do a thing now. I am going to be all-right”. He is upset at the first doctor who told him he had to have an operation because now he knows he can skip that. Now there will be no inconvenience, no pain and no expensive operation.
Thanks to that second opinion Steve is not concerned…
Until two years later.
He becomes very ill and goes to the doctor. However, now things have really changed. He is weeks away from death. The first doctor tells him that and the second doctor does too. It can’t be denied. X-rays show a very aggressive tumor that both doctors confirm is malignant. The tumor has invaded many crucial organs in his body.
Their prognosis: “No treatment will help you now.”
You can see where this illustration has gone. That is why I think it is so powerful. When there is a problem, a correction needs to be made, even though it is inconvenient, painful and maybe expensive.
Maybe this is where we are in the church today. I know this is a horrible generalization but churches that are growing should examine why they are growing. Is it because the message is positive, uplifting, and encouraging 100% of the time?
I try to be a positive person as much as I can but sometimes life is not like that. There are troubles that must be dealt with and I need someone to tell me that I am headed in the wrong direction.
Let’s stop and not get too obsessive. Too many people think that if you can’t be positive then you must go negative. That’s not true. A good balance of some negatives with mostly positives is probably the reasonable approach.
Like you, I don’t want to hear bad news from my doctor. However, I would rather hear that I have a problem and it can be corrected than ignore the bad news and one day get the news “No treatment will help now.”
When it comes to my life, if I am doing wrong I would rather hear “it is time to fix this” than ignore a correction that needs to be made. Granted, change is hard but sometimes it is called for. Maybe with change, the bad news can be eventually altered to good news.
With hard work and help from our Lord and Savior…
Maybe bad news is not that bad after all.