16 September 2008

Secular Advice? Nope, it's God's: Church Peeves Part 2

Church Peeves: Part 2

This is the second in a 5-part series of things about church/churchgoers that piss me right the hell off that are of little or no consequence whatsoever:

2) Secular advice? Nope, it’s God’s

a. Question: when does a church sermon actually feature a useful message?
b. Answer: when that message is a mundane secular message.

There was some good advice at a church service I went to the other day. It was all about taking one day off a week just to refresh by not thinking or doing anything about stuff you consider to be work. I like that advice. In fact, I try to have several days a week like that; however, annoying things like my job or my wife (just kidding) do all they can to get in the way of that. The pastor talked of his early ministerial life where he felt burned-out continuously because he never took a day to himself and eventually the senior pastor had to force him to take Mondays off. This is all good advice.

Of course, I could have given you this advice without having to create something called a Sabbath, tying it into a story in Genesis about God “resting” on the seventh day - not because he was tired but to serve as an example for us, and causing some poor guy picking up sticks on a Sunday to be stoned to death:

32 While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the LORD said to Moses, "The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp." 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Apart from sabbathing, I’ve heard other good sermons about marital relationships and conflict resolution, the benefits of hard work even in poor circumstances, charity, and striving to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. They all had tenuous ties to the Bible and the secular advice was pretty spot-on, though some of the more firm ties to the Bible were pretty sketchy in advice quality (see the stoning of the dude in the Sabbath story – stoning people isn’t typically considered good advice under any circumstances in this day and age).

I really wish I had read the pamphlet entitled, “God-Centred Approach to Job Loss.” That could have been enlightening.

One last thing: even though a secular advice-giver will give all this good advice as well as any other, for some reason many believers won’t take this good advice to heart unless it comes by way of a minister and a tenuous connection to the Bible. Trying to help people these people is frustrating.

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