I met someone recently who was telling me about the church he attends. At first, he described it as a small church, but a moment later he went even further to say, "Actually, it's a very small church."
I was somewhat surprised when he then revealed that the congregation consisted of about 250 people. I suppose such a church is considered tiny when compared to the so-called megachurches with memberships into the thousands.
But others of us wouldn't describe a congregation of that size as "very small." If I did, then I might have to come up with a word like "microscopic" to describe the current status of even smaller churches, such as my own congregation.
It reminds me of the relative views we have of the outdoor temperature, depending on the season of the year in which we happen to be. This week as we enter the month of November, we might talk about a temperature of 65 degrees as being warm. But just a few months ago, the exact same temperature would have been described as cool.
I'm not suggesting that truth is relative. On the contrary, I believe there are standards which hold true regardless of how we happen to feel about them.
A group of 250 people is the same number of individuals whether you happen to consider it as being small or large. And 65 degrees is the same temperature regardless of whether you feel like it's warm or cool at the time.
There are truths which continue to be valid and relevant regardless of how we view them. It's not the truth itself that has changed. It's our perspective of it which tends to be altered by the changing seasons of our society or by changes in our own relationship with God.
There are standards which God has set which have not changed even though they might make more people uncomfortable these days. The Bible still states the eternal truths that it has proclaimed for many centuries, but we live in a season in which many view those truths with colder hearts or from the standpoint of a society that has replaced them with their own values.
For example, Jesus spoke repeatedly about the eternal punishment and destruction of those who refused to believe in Him. Yet it seems that I'm encountering more and more people, even professing Christians, who don't believe in a hell or in a God who would condemn anyone to such a punishment.
Then there's Jesus' clear statement, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).
That scripture is an indication that only those who believe in Christ will go to heaven. Yet many people seem to think that all good, moral or religious people will be there, even those whose religion doesn't acknowledge Jesus as the unique Son of God and Savior.
Of course there's the hot-button issue of homosexuality. In spite of scripture plainly declaring the practice to be unnatural and sinful, more people are viewing it otherwise today.
These, along with many other truths declared in scripture, have not changed. But the way they are viewed is changing as these declarations are considered outdated, narrow-minded, and even offensive to a growing number in our day.
Let's not condemn the truth of God's Word because it makes us uncomfortable, or because we know it's not the popular view, or because it runs counter to our society's evolving standards and values. Let's remember that there are truths which remain true no matter how we or others feel about them.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.