7 Offensive Sabbath Program Topics Most Leaders are Afraid to Do.
We live in an age where there seems to be a growing pressure to be politically correct. The fear of offending people has found its way into our conversations, publications, sermons and even our sabbath programs.
The problem with trying to avoid offence is that it can lead to totally omitting specific topics from the table of discussion. If you want to be sure your church has not fallen into that trap, ensure that you plan programs addressing one or more of these seven potentially "offensive" topics.
1. The Unavoidable Consequences of Sin
In an effort to reign in the former scare tactics of hell and apocalyptic destructions used in the past, we have made an effort to focus on the free grace given by Jesus through His death. Unfortunately, as humans do, we sometimes end up going from one extreme to the next. The narrative has started to imply that the grace of God is like soap that washes away sins and it's consequences. This concept leaves many to see God's grace as a restart button, that they can simply press to undo the past and start again.
The part that is ignored is that grace is not meant to just clean, it is meant to transform, so you would not need to be cleaned again. It also conveniently leaves out the fact that sin is a scarring disease that can have a long term impact on the sinner, even after they have been forgiven.
Living a life addicted to drugs and alcohol can impact you and others for years after you are clean. Your health and brain chemistry may never be the same. You may have caused many to join you in a life of addiction that they will never recover from. You could have destroyed relationships that are impossible to mend. We need to emphasize the dangers of sin and encourage people, by the grace of God, to live a life free of sin.
2. Unequally Yoked
We have somewhat over time taken the idea of being unequally yoked as a biblical suggestion. When in fact, it is no less commanding than the first commandment that says "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." The command to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers stems directly from the first commandment. Isreal has historically fallen into apostasy and blatant idol worship primarily because they intermarried with the surrounding nations. Once contrary beliefs and practices start infiltrating families, the children and spouses lose the unadulterated practice of the worship of God and inevitably fall into idol worship. We saw that perpetuated through Solomon and many other kings of Israel. We should preach the importance of being equally yoked, so like Joshua, we can safely say "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
3. Fornication and Adultery
Read this out loud, "sex is good, sex is beautiful, sex is of God." If you had difficulty doing that, your church might not be doing a great job of speaking about what sex is. A primary cause for the abuse of the beautiful gift of sex that God has endowed on humanity is a lack of understanding of its deep spiritual and holy purpose.
The Devil has used his skill of deception to make us try to remove the problem of fornication and adultery by ignoring the fact that it is prevalent in our churches. "Maybe if we don't speak about it, it will go away." Meanwhile, the media has ramped up the conversation about sex in every movie, advertisement, comedy and Instagram story. If our people only hear one side of the story, which side are we leaving them to believe? We then scramble to discipline and chastise the few who get caught through pregnancy, cheating, sexual abuse or coming out as homosexual. Let us talk more positively about sex, its role in a Christian marriage and the beauty and power of sex in an enduring god ordained bond.
I would not recommend addressing this topic unless you adequately discuss the previous three. It is in fully understanding the God-ordained concept of choosing the right spouse and remaining faithful in marriage when a proper discussion around divorce can be had. If we ignore the previous steps, divorce becomes an almost inevitable end. Without paying attention to the foundational first steps, then all sorts of excuses and exceptions will start to pop up.
A marriage is a representation of the bond with Christ and His church; we should consider marriage as eternal as Christ's love for us. The Bible states that it is out of the hardness of our hearts that divorce is even a consideration. Let us teach our church what Christ's love is like and how we can mirror this selfless love to our spouses.
5. Health Message
We are all happy with the church addressing change in lifestyle until it impacts our health. Many of us know and understand the importance of health, but we become offended whenever there is an attempt to associate physical health with spiritual health. That would mean that intentionally refusing to eat healthily, have adequate exercise and rest is tantamount to sin.
We are the temple of God, and our minds are his pulpit. When we come to the appreciation of how our health impacts the power and will of the mind, we will realize that without good health, we cannot truly discern the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Let us avoid making the topic of health a competition and measuring stick of who is most holy. In the end, God is the final judge because there will be more obese people in heaven than those who carry around the weight of the sin of unloving chastisement, fault-finding and condemnation.
Speak about health positively and helpfully, encouraging through practice and example, right ways to accomplish a healthy mind and body.
6. Modesty in Dress and Appearance
Depending on what church you attend, there may be a lot of focus or very little focus on this topic. Unfortunately, in both cases, many of us still miss the point. The topic of modesty in dress and appearance ironically has little to do with how you adorn yourself. If you look at one biblical quotation addressing this topic, 1 Peter 3, 4: "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." Many come out with the idea being to refrain from wearing gold or plaiting your hair. They then focus on less expensive apparel and more plain-looking hairstyles. Yet, the heart is evil and filled with the vilest thoughts.
The idea the Bible was trying to communicate is that by focusing on having a meek and quiet spirit and other fruits of the Spirit, all the outward forms of adorning will become of less importance and eventually fall into line. By focusing on what is considered adorning, how tight or short your clothes should be, we will constantly be chasing a moving target. Fashion is moving swiftly, yesterday it was cool to wear baggy clothes, short hair, shiny shoes but tomorrow we don't know where it might end up. Let's stop trying to make laws for every variation like the Pharisees and let the conversation on appearance be about reflecting the image of Christ.
Try to get your congregation to ponder or discuss these questions:
- Will my outward appearance prevent others from seeing Christ in me?
- Is my heart as clean and modest as my dress?
- If my appearance is not as I like it to be, will that prevent me from doing the work God has called me to do?
- What are my thoughts towards others who do not adorn themselves in the way I consider to be acceptable?
7. The Imminent Second coming of Christ
It is ironic that our name shouts that we believe in the second coming of Christ, yet we rarely want to behave as we do. We have mentally delayed the second coming of Christ for another couple of decades by telling ourselves that the "signs have not been fulfilled." However, if we understood the timing of the second coming as the apostles did, we would be hard at work spreading the good news of salvation.
The apostles understood that "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Matthew 24:14. They didn't think that as the end came nearer, the gospel would automatically be preached. They wanted so badly to see Jesus return in their life that they spent their whole life trying to preach the gospel to the entire world.
When we begin the see the second coming as a function of our efforts and consider our ability to hasten Jesus' second coming by being a witness, then we will change our outlook on evangelism.
This idea is an uncomfortable truth for many of us because we see our lives focused on our own goals and accomplishments, only to be sidelined if we begin to see signs of Jesus' second coming. The idea that our entire existence should focus on ministry is foreign to many and strikes a dagger in the heart of our secular plans. We are not implying that there is no room for secular accomplishments such as education, family, and owning property. However, these should be considered as tools that can be used to further the mission of Christ.
I pray that you can freely and openly address these topics in your church without fear of offending, yet while speaking the truth in love.
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