I don’t spend a lot of time on YouTube so I am coming to this discussion a little late. I had the chance to see this video in Church this past Sunday where it was shown before the sermon. I really like what Jefferson Bethke has to say. The full text of the poem can be found here so that you can read it for yourself.
If you look at the ministry of the prophets in the Old Testament, one of their functions was to challenge the Israelites to reexamine their lives in light of Scripture. One of the problems that the prophets addressed was that the religious observance in Israel often did not translate into changed lives. The rituals did not bring righteousness. Perhaps this is the best way of taking Jeremiah Bethke’s video, as a call to reexamine our lives in light of Scripture.
There is much in the church today that should be challenged and examined. We certainly cannot operate as if the Church is what it could be or should be. I know this because I am part of the church and I am neither what I could be or should be with regard to my walk with Jesus.
I am haunted by the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 7:21-23 where he tells us that many who claim relationship with Jesus will be turned away from Heaven. Those turned away by Jesus point to their works as proof of their status. This is a reminder that religion doesn’t save anyone, Jesus does. So I get where Mr. Bethke is coming from in much of his poem. We are challenged to be in the relationship with Jesus first and foremost.
I also appreciate Kevin DeYoung’s Reaction to the video and the follow-up post including a response from Mr. Bethke. Kevin searches for balance and goes point by point through the poem pointing out some parts that potentially cause confusion.
DeYoung’s point is well taken that God’s program is with the Church, imperfect as she is. We cannot pursue a relationship with Christ apart from the Church. The Church is an institution founded by Christ and when she is functioning as she ought, the Church is also in submission to Christ. So while parts of the visible church are failing in their mission, we cannot escape our responsibility to allow God to transform us and our Church into what he wants us to be.
Mr. Bethke’s poem should be taken as food for thought. We should examine what Scripture says about the issues he presents and how our churches should respond. We should examine Scripture and consider how we should respond individually to the issues the poem presents. We should seek God to change us individually and transform our Church into an institution that is above reproach, that takes Scripture seriously, that lives out the Gospel and reaches out to a world that desperately needs good news.
Thank you Jefferson Bethke and Kevin DeYoung for a healthy dialog.
What is your reaction to the video and Kevin DeYoung’s response?