Who are you listening to and where are they getting their information? That is a great question isn't it? It's very important. You need to know.
Go to any American school and quiz the kids. Who invented Basketball? They'll say that Americans did. Ask them who invented the light bulb. They'll tell you that their text book says an American invented it. They'll even tell you Thomas Edison did it too. The fact of the matter is that "America's game" and "America's brightest idea" were both inventions of Canadians. Of course the text books don't mention that Henry Woodward, the Canadian who invented the lightbulb, ran out of development money and sold the pattent to Thomas Edison. People don't recite the fact that James Naismith was a Canadian who invented the game as a physical training technique. It's not that the facts are hard to find, they're just ignored. It's not that the people saying that Basketball is America's invention or Thomas Edison invented the light bulb are bad. It just makes it difficult to take a person seriously after being presented with the facts and then those facts are ignored anyway.
So it's obvious. The people controlling the flow of information to other people often tell them what they want them to hear and think. This serves some sort of purpose in the more grand scheme. The purposes may be for evil. The purposes may be for a perceived noble good as well. Nonetheless I see it happening. I don't think the Christian community has been exempt either.
Too many preachers, teachers and authors are missquoting, misrepresenting and misinterpreting the Bible for their own purposes. There I said it. At least that's my opinion. One preacher says poverty is a sin. Jesus said that "the poor you will have with you always." Another preacher says that God provided all of our healing for every disease. Jesus didn't even heal everyone. One author writes a book about "how many steps to do such and such" and Jesus simply says to believe. Case in point, at the last church I worked at on staff, a guest minister from another country said that "God has a special place in heaven for preachers. I really believe that." That made all of the ordinary folk feel great I'm sure. I'm sorry, but I have to politely ask him and the others saying these things, stop making this stuff up!
Let's bring this home to our churches. I even challenge you to put your own church to the test. Ministers across North America are telling us about our personal walk with God, our personal spiritual experience and our personal faith in God. Last time I read the New Testament there wasn't much that was personal about it. It was communal. The church is the eklesia of God. The church is the Body of Christ. It is a collective community of people of like faith, like beliefs with a shared experience. Jesus had twelve disciples. He was virtually never alone EXCEPT in his personal prayer times with God.
The teachings of a personal gospel fly in the face of almost everything Jesus stood for. Furthermore, the teachings of a personal faith gospel are bent toward making the Bible say what we want it to say to fit our personal beliefs. The teachings of a personal faith gospel allows us to relinquish our personal responsibility to one another. I challenge anyone to read the New Testament writings and tell me or anyone that its teachings are NOT about a community of faith. We, me, a minister, teacher or whomever, can't just make stuff up. While I'm not advising we all huddle into a gated community, I am admonishing all to be aware of who and what we are listening to.
Jesus said "my sheep hear my voice". I ask again, who are you listening to?