Sunday, October 02, 2005

Looking For The Right Pitch

A friend of mine gave me a CD before I left the states, Rick Warren’s kickoff service of Saddleback’s latest program, “40 Days of P.E.A.C.E.” I was unable to go to church this morning, so I listened to the CD instead.

Of course I enjoyed, not only the message, but the content as well. Rick is a gifted speaker and no one questions his success in building a strong church. I must admit, I’ve never read his runaway bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life, partly because I have an aversion to jumping on bandwagons. No doubt I would profit from the reminders that are basic and valuable for every Christian, and in time, I probably will read it.

It’s interesting how the Holy Spirit uses a message for HIS purpose. Rick was talking about using our lives to serve Christ by serving others. While that is a message I need, it was not what impressed me most. The thing that grabbed me was the positive tone of Rick’s presentation. When I say positive, I don’t mean in the sense of Schuller or Osteen, which tends to be inward focused, but a positive presentation of what God wants for our lives to fulfill His purpose.

I contrasted Rick’s message with that of another person I admire and that is John McArthur. John is a noted Bible scholar and down through the years I have listened to his expository presentations. His command of the original languages is unquestioned and as a result he brings out unique insights from the pages of Scripture.

The difference between Warren and McArthur is tone. Warren’s tone is more along the lines what is right and good whereas McArthur’s sides more with what is wrong and bad. It’s no secret that McArthur has been critical of Warren’s writing’s as he was on Larry King Live basically characterizing Warren’s writing as “pop Christianity.” He may be right, though I think it probably doesn’t do McArthur or the Kingdom much good to get on national television to make that point.

Critical analysis is one of my areas of giftedness, which has evolved over the years. Because of my age and experience, I’ve lived enough of life to discern what is real and sensible, from what is misleading and thoughtless. Obviously cross-cultural ministry is my arena of expertise and I’m pretty open with my views on the church as it relates to world evangelization. The trick is, and this is where the Spirit nicked me this morning, the fine balance between critical analysis and just being critical. Am I more like Warren or McArthur? Tone is everything. I’m praying for the right pitch.