What if you went to the dentist and he or she told you that you had a tiny cavity in between your teeth (interproximal decay, to be specific)? Basically what they are saying is there is a part on your tooth that was neglected, and as a result, is literally rotting away. At first, this may be hard to believe! You brush your teeth every day! Twice a day! Three times a day! How can this be?
The doctor responds: I can tell that the surfaces reached by a toothbrush were quite clean. The problem was the area where we are supposed to floss.
FLOSS?!? you say. Nobody ever told me about floss! Why didn’t anybody tell me about floss? Your dentist (if he or she is caring and concerned for you) will answer: I have no idea, but I can show you how to floss, and I have some pamphlets with even more information you can read at home. From then on, you realize the relationship you have with your teeth is greater than you may have realized. You learn that your teeth are something you don’t just “kind of take care of”, but in fact they are something you guard and defend against rot and decay. Of course, there are those who hear the dentists word of instruction and decide that it isn’t a big deal, or instead of protecting them with care and fluoride, they prefer to use sugar and gummy bears. Why? Because that ol’ brushing and flossing is so old fashioned. People nowadays don’t want to be bothered with that old stuff. They want something more relevant. And for many dentist-goers, it’s sugar and gummy bears.
What is a Dentist to do? Most dentists tell them,
Look, I know what you LIKE, but I am trying to tell you what you NEED. Sugar and gummy bears are fine in their proper context, but as a method of caring for your teeth, it is disastrous and harmful. This course you are on is leading towards rotten teeth… then no teeth… then false teeth.
In effect, you will have failed to care for your teeth.
Of course there are always dentists that will worry that teaching proper dental hygiene will make them seem unwelcoming, so in an effort to keep their patients, they will adopt these “gummy bear”practices for those patients preferring that, and eventually they will apply it across the board. Even people raised to brush and floss will be either converted to this “new, post-dentistry culture” or they will be shunned for their “Old Fashioned” and “unloving” way of thinking. Eventually those dentists will dedicate most of their practice to making false teeth that, no matter how shiny they are, and how many patients have them, they still aren’t the teeth they were supposed to care for. (In my nearly 10 years of serving as a dental assistant, I don’t ever remember a dentist or a patient who ever believed their false teeth were better than a mouth full of strong, healthy teeth.)
When it comes to the Christian Church, we are in the same boat (or dental chair). Instead of TOOTH decay, we risk TRUTH decay. It, too is something that, if neglected, will rot us to our core, leaving us hollow and in agony. The faith and practice of the Church is something clear and objectively true. With the teachings of Christ, His Bible is clear.
- I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (Ro 16:17).
- As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, (1 Ti 1:3).
- If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. (1 Ti 6:3–4).
So as you attend Church, be watchful of what you are seeing and hearing. Also, Bible study hour is a great time to “brush up” on some things you might be unclear on.