30 Days in the Bible, Day 17: Deuteronomy 17:14-20
If the instructions in today’s passage had been taken seriously by the kings of Israel and Judah, how much different could the course of their history have been? God commanded each king to read and follow His law. As we read through the historical books of the Old Testament, we see that this command was ignored by most of the kings. Even if they kept up the external tradition of writing out their own copy of the Law (which we are not told that any king did), they clearly failed to put its precepts into practice.
While not kings, many leaders in the broad stream of Christianity fail to understand and apply the Word today. We see large numbers of churches that call themselves “Christian” espouse teachings that openly ignore what the Word says, sometimes defiantly so. These churches are more interested in fitting in with the intellectual, social, and moral climate of contemporary society than they are with remaining true to God and His Word. They believe that by reflecting current ideals they will attract the world to them.
Most of these situations do not arise when people who attend a church start to pressure the pastors and teachers of the church to compromise. More often, they begin when leaders come in who reject or reinterpret Biblical teachings to match popular thought. There is a lot of pressure to be acceptable to those who have status outside of the church, to appear to be reasonable and tolerant by people who are more interested in justifying their sin than to be faithful to Christ.
When we look for a church, or for a pastor or Bible teacher, our first criterion should be “Is this someone who knows and lives the Word of God?” While we’ll never find someone who is perfect, we should seek out leaders for whom the Bible is their authoritative guide for life and whose lives reflect an understanding and commitment to following the Lord and His Word.
Ironically, it is denominations and churches which have turned away from the Bible which are losing members most rapidly. The very thing they thought they could achieve by compromising with modern culture has not happened. When we seek to be like the world, we give those in the world no reason to join us. We can’t offer them anything they don’t already have.
The Bible as the revealed Word of God provides the Christian and the church with something far more important and valuable than anything this world has to offer. Through the Word, we learn of our need, of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, of eternal life, and of a life with meaning that goes beyond our time here on earth. We need to learn from leaders and teachers who know, study, live, and proclaim these truths to us. For that, we must always come back to God’s Word, and to what it reveals to us about Him.