Last week was the annual Shepherd's Conference, hosted by John MacArthur's church. If you know anything about John MacArthur, you know to expect that this conference exists to proclaim the word of God without compromise. Actually, if you don't know about MacArthur, now would be a great time for you to pick up a copy of The Gospel According to Jesus or Hard to Believe (only four bucks! I may buy a few more at that price just to give away), and just read it. You absolutely will not regret it.
MacArthur believes that the Bible is God's word, and actually acts like it. He preaches like it. And this conference exists to proclaim it. I've heard that Al Mohler's message is a beauty - that's currently downloading for tomorrow's listening pleasure.
The first conference message I got to listen to, and perhaps the most instantly notorious one (for this year, anyway), was a beauty by Phil Johnson. Phil examines what scripture has to say about the recent trend he calls the "pornification of the church", churches using graphic sexual speech (and images) and other gutter language in the name of being relevant. This behavior obviously falls extremely far short of the standard set by scripture, and as expected Phil brings the full weight and authority of the Word to bear against those who shame the church by promoting such filth.
Now, after listening to this message, one of the conference attendees - an audience consisting largely of pastors, mind you - was so furious that he vandalized a bathroom, with some incredibly obscene graffiti. A few questions immediately leap to mind here. Was he just trying to clearly illustrate Phil's point? What exactly was he expecting to hear at this conference, if not the Word of God brought fully to bear on the issues affecting the church? Could there be a worse response when sin is exposed than to revel more fully in it? Am I any different?
OK, that last question might be a surprise. But it's ultimately the most important one, isn't it? See, it's easy to shake my head at this guy, whose response to conviction is frankly beyond parody. I mean, he goes to a conference to hear God's word proclaimed boldly, and when it comes to a part he doesn't like, he flies off the handle and sins boldly and shamelessly. Phil's message was in session 7. I can picture this guy sitting through the first six, cheering on as MacArthur and Mohler and the other speakers bring the word, and call people out for the various ways they fall short of their calling as pastors. One of the speakers tears into emerg*s? You tell 'em! Taking apart easy-believism? Go get 'em, take no prisoners! Soft-peddling the Word, going easy on sin and repentance? Bring it! Keep going, this stuff is great!
Tarnishing the pulpit with filthy language and inappropriate material? Whoa, hold on now, why'd you have to go there? And so when his pet sin is hit, he can either repent or rebel. In this case, he chose to rebel.
Again I ask, am I any different? Are you?
It's so easy to cheer when the preacher brings the Word, when it's something they need to hear. When it's something I don't struggle with, but I see it running rampant in the church or society as a whole, oh yeah, I can listen to that preaching all day. But what happens when he hits my favorite sins? Do I zone out, just sort of skip over that part? Do I seek to self-justify, and explain how scripture doesn't really mean that, and even if it does it's not like what I'm doing is so bad, right? Do I go into full-on rebellion, and flaunt the sin because of my 'freedom in Christ', and take on the "Oh yeah? I'll show you!" attitude of a particularly immature three-year-old?
Or do I accept the Word of God as it is, and humbly confess my sin, and repent of it?
Yes, what this guy did is stupid on so many levels. It's foolish, moronic, disgusting, completely indefensible. But in the rush to (rightly) condemn his sin, let's examine our own hearts and how we respond to conviction. What he's done is obviously shameful. Let's not join him. When sin is exposed, let's repent of it and put it to death by the grace of God.
(Related: I was just cleaning out the RSS feed and saw this. Wow. Now that is how to respond to temptation and conviction of sin! So to sum up: be like this guy, not like vile graffiti guy.)
38 minutes ago