“That We May Be Like That . . .”

Miss Timmer added this note to her article: “I realize that this is a negative approach to the topic chosen. Sometime I hope to approach it positively, or if some woman desires to develop the positive aspect, be sure to contact me.”

How familiar the above words sound. It must be a recent quotation, don’t you think? Doesnt it remind you of how our youth put it when they say, “Everybody is doing it”? Yes, it must be a modern expression. Yes? No, it isnt. It dales back to the period when Israel was still a theocracy, to the time when God reigned over them as King without a human king. No other nation had ever had the distinction of having God as King, nor will any nation have that privilege again.

Imagine! God their national King! Yet that did not satisfy them, None of the earnest warnings of Samuel could convince them of the superiority of their divine government. No, they must have a human king “that we may be like all the nations.” They wanted a human king to judge them, to go out before them, to fight their battles for them (I Sam. 8:20). A finite king looked better to them than their infinitely, powerful, divine King! A visible king looked better to them than their invisible but omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient King. What perversion of judgment! What a distorted sense of values!

Great was the wickedness of Israel in desiring a king like all the other nations. Samuel said, “Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking you a king” (I Sam. 12:17).

Isn’t there a strong desire among God’s people, old and young, to be like this one or that one, this group or that group, this church or that church, this circle or that circle? Dont our desires “to be like” often tend downward instead of upward? Don’t they often reveal perversion of judgment, distortion of values? Let me illustrate.

What perversion of judgment it is for a minister reared in the solid doctrines of the Word to hanker after and even introduce the positive thinking of Schulerism with its superficial and showy preaching. It is like preferring husks to corn, shells to peanuts, a mud hole to a pool with clear water. How can a Reformed preacher, trained in reformed doctrine and exegetical preaching, want to be like Schuler?

What perversion of values it is to limit the authenticity and inerrancy of the Scriptures to its teaching concerning the saving revelation of God through Jesus Christ, when the Bible clearly teaches its full inspiration and inerrancy on whatever it teaches. To have stooped to that level of evaluation is to have lost sight of the Bible being like a well-balanced meal and not like a meal of only pie. How can a Reformed man want to be like the liberals who chop away at the Scriptures retaining only what fits their thinking?

How dishonoring to God to prefer dialogue and discussion to the faithful preaching of God’s Word. Only the Word of God, not man’s opinions, is the power of God unto salvation. To substitute discussion and dialogue for faithful exegesis is to be like the false church.

How distorted the judgment of church assemblies when they protect the reputation of a human being at the expense of maintaining fully the pure teaching of God’s Word, the purity of the church, and the honor of God Himself. Aren‘t such assemblies saying, we want to be like the groups that retain unfaithful prophets because they are such likeable people, such scholarly men, such sincere personalities?

Some of our congregations have also as much as said that they want to be like those churches who have for a long time special services for children during the regular services. Isn‘t that the worK of the Godordained servant who is called to preach the Word to all of God’s people? Children belong to Gods people, don‘t they? If children dont share the ministry of the God-ordained servant during official worship, whose ministry do they share during that time? May that honor be given to anyone other than one called of God to the official ministry of the Word?

In the August 1976 issue of THE OUTLOOK, the Rev. Stoutmeyer warns against introducing “Children‘s Church Services.” He says: “The American church world has followed this as an established procedure for as many years as anyone can remember, and it certainly has NOT strengthened these churches to say the least. . . . God help us resist this new trend among us and keep the family worshipping together—the family that is already too fragmented where every member goes his own way the other six days of the week. Let the children learn the discipline of sitting with their parents in the Lord’s house; learning from their parents interest in and love for the Word: the discipline of listening to the Word faithfully applied to them by the minister every Sunday without fail, the discipline of faithful participation in communal worship” (pp. 21–22).

While in the process of writing this article The Banner of September 10 came in the mail. What an example of “I want to be like” in Mr. Fred Baker‘s stirring article on “The Church and Alcohol.” Be sure to have everyone in your family read it. In telling of a 14-year-old Christian School boy who tells of having had, on a certain occasion, “only three cans of beer.” Mr. Baker counselled him, but being 2000 miles apart, he doesn‘t know “what part of his message stuck,” but, writes Mr. Baker, “I do know that the problem is very, very serious when Christian Reformed kids of 14 years fear being an oddball without at least three beers” (p. 10). What more vivid example can you find of “wanting to be like”? That same article reveals that the higher the level of social life among the Christian Reformed people, the greater the percentage of alcoholism. Also this is due to wanting “to be like.”

Instead of the Bible being our guide for life and practice, there is disturbing evidence of the world being our guide for life and practice in some areas of life. Doesn’t the following substantiate that we want to be like the world in different ways?

1. Take two examples of growing Sabbath desecration:

a. Among our people there are those who watch sports on T.V. on Sundays, as well as looking at other secular shows, thus seeking their own pleasure.

b. Some of our youth themselves indulge in sports on Sundays by playing baseball, basketball, swimming, picknicking, etc., thus seeking their own pleasure.

The Bible is very clear on how God wants us to spend the Sabbath. Listen prayerfully to what God says: “If you do not tramp upon the Sabbath by doing your business on My holy day, but call the Sabbath an enjoyment, in order that the Lord might be sacredly honored; and if you honor it by not doing your business, nor seeking your pleasure, nor talking idle talk; then you shall find your delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the highways of the earth; I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob your father; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” (Isa. 58:13–14, Berkeley Version).


2. It deeply grieves me that some of our leaders take their children to theaters and even our dear old Calvin College has introduced theatricals some of which have been strongly condemned publicly. I cannot make this jibe with Psalm One, nor with the warning not even to touch the garment polluted with the flesh.

3. Parents complain that some of our teachers recommend the reading of a kind of literature that does damage to the sensitive souls of youth.

4. How dare some leaders of youth recommend more and more exposure to evil so that they may be prepared for life? That is why they advise the young to see certain plays, certain movies, and read certain books. Is that the kind of direction the Bible gives us? Do you read that kind of advice into Psalm One when that man is pronounced blessed who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on that Jaw he meditates day and night? What about Romans 16:19 where God through Paul warns the Roman church “to be wise unto that which is good, and simple unto that which is evil,” or as the Berkeley version has it “to be well versed when it comes to goodness, and innocent when it comes to evil.” This doesn’t sound like the kind of advice some students get From some of their teachers, thank God not From all.

Dear reader, don’t be ashamed of not being acquainted with evil. Don’t be ashamed of being deathly scared of the theater, the dance hall, the card parties, the gambling den, the bar room, the drug habit, the pornographic literature, the profane authors, etc. Dare with Daniel to refuse the king’s dainties. Dare to reject the devil’s dainties sometimes so attractively set beFore you in the name of culture, of the aesthetic, and even sometimes in the name of common grace.