We have been exploring the idea of being holy and how it perhaps may be more important WHO we are rather than what we do. What do you think about that? I left with the following questions. Who are we? Do we look like the people God has appointed us to be? How should we look compared to the rest of the world?
In other words, does our Christian faith, in practice, noticeably distinguish us from the rest of the world? Are we “dedicated or consecrated to God”?
I think that’s a fair question. In business, we send employees to conferences to improve their performance with the end goal of improving profits. The more measurable the results compared to the inputs, the easier it is to make decisions. While a company may invest in intangibles, direct correlations to costs paid to profits are sought.
Might it be that way with the church as well?
I think so. Let’s look at a couple of verses from Paul to the church.
Galatians 4:11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.
2 Corinthians 11:28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety from all the churches.
Colossians 2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face,
Doesn’t it seem that Paul is concerned about his investment? It’s not as if he has a trip to Florida dangling in front of him as a performance carrot, but he certainly has a personal stake in the health of the church. What is it that concerns Paul? Heresy, sin, and loving others, off the top of my mind.
Galatians 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.
1 Corinthians 5:11-13 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
How do we stand up to these things? If we feel we are doing pretty good, how do we compare to the rest of the world? Here’s something I observe in the Episcopal church. They are heretical in that they have turned to a different gospel. They boldly proclaim from the pulpit that it doesn’t matter who you worship. In fact, they even have ATHEIST bishops – lifetime appointments that rule over regional congregations. Can you imagine! They also openly embrace and promote homosexuality and gender fluidity. While I have not heard them directly promote abortion (although they might), they are deafeningly silent in the rights of the unborn and indirectly promote it through their wholesale embrace of the modern feminist movement through the Democratic Party. Even so, they are very staunch in their opinion that theirs is an exceptionally loving church as demonstrated, in part, though their open embrace of all sorts of peoples. There is, however, one significant exception – the Evangelical Church. They pretty much dismiss the Catholic Church, but they loath the evangelicals. In their mind, that is a good thing because they feel that bible fanatics are the ones who actually twist the bible to promote hatred, prejudice, and oppression. In their minds, they are clearly walking in step with God, especially when they compare themselves to the bible-thumpers.
Long story short, if you walk into an Episcopal church, you will find people who have been gathering together for many years, even generations. They know each other’s children and grandchildren. They have been through illnesses and death. They have regular pot lucks and do things for the community. They do all sorts of nice things. They are nice people. Plain and simple.
So are we.
How do WE stack up with the things that concern Paul? Are we tight in our doctrinal beliefs? Do we tolerate sin? Do we love? We may say that we do pretty well, but do we stand apart from other groups? Or are we simply another denomination, one that is likely pretty hateful at that?
Honestly, I have been on both the inside and the outside. I’m not so sure that we are. Yes, I see a terrific difference in the whole born-again aspect of our faith and our relative hunger for the bible as it is written compared to other churches. But, can we say that we are a city on a hill or the light of the world compared to others? Can we say that others glorify God when they see our good works?
I say that Jesus commands us to be ready for his return. These things are very fair questions for us to be asking of our church and ourselves. Are we prepared?
Thankfully, Jesus gives us feedback on this through his letters to the seven churches in Revelation. I think we just might explore this.
Father, keep us on that rabbit! Amen!
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers