Friday, April 26, 2013

Purpose of church 3 - OUTREACH part 3

“We must stand up for the truth!” A phrase heard uttered by many believers today. A sentiment we follow in an effort to do evangelism. Granted we must stand up for the truth, as long as we are actually standing up for the truth in the process. What do I mean? Take for example, those who crucified Christ. In their mind, they were standing up for the truth. They were protecting their beliefs and traditions to do so. Yet they broke the law of Moses that they held sacred in order to do so. Current believers do not do much better when we correct in pride rather than humility. We walk over all that we hold sacred when we correct without love. Ultimately whenever a believer chooses to correct with impatience, unkindness, boasting, rudeness, or any other action that’s the reverse of the loving actions portrayed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; The opposition is quick to point out “this is how they love, they claim to be about love, but what they do in not loving at all, not even by their own standards.” Which puts the opposition in a good position to redefine love in their own self-serving image. A position we have put them in, and they have taken full advantage of. All because of sinful impatient non empathetic prideful believers who thinks righteousness can be achieved by shame. 

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” - John 13:34-35

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that dayyou will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” - John 14:15-21

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. - John 15:9-17

It seems that Jesus could not stress this point enough, yet still we fail at it.

man bowing down to the concept of love in worship while defying true love in practice
Non Practicing 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Purpose of church 3 - OUTREACH part 2

In the end when it comes to outreach all one can really do is inspire. The best way to do that is with the lives we live everyday. While you can try to force someone to act as you believe they should, you might even convince the government to back you up, but all you are really doing is whitewashing someone else’s tomb. If it’s pointless to do that to yourself, how much more pointless is it to do that to someone who hasn’t even chosen that for themselves. (Matthew 23:27-28) You haven’t really changed people where it counts, that place being the heart. Yet, the closest thing a lot of so-called church people get to outreach is condemnation. There are very few things that are less inspirational than condemnation and criticism. Ask yourself honestly, do you respect those who treat you critically? Do you go out of your way to please such unpleasant people? Or do you go out of your way to defy them? So why do we expect such methods to produce any other results when we apply them to others? I’ll tell you, it’s the sinful nature of the flesh. The flesh always chooses the phony quick fix. Just look at the ways of sinful flesh nature listed in Galatians 5:19-21 and take note of just how many can correspond with critical condemnation. Then ask yourself, why do we deceive ourselves into thinking this is righteousness.  

The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. - Genesis 39:2-4

hypocrite painting over someone else's scars against his will
Whitewashing someone else's tomb

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Purpose of church 3 - outreach

Outreach is essentially education turned outward rather than inward, not that we treat it the same as internal education.

The church as a whole has been making a grand push towards outreach these days. Sadly, it’s often only out of necessity, not because it’s the right thing to do though. They often end up trying to use people to build the church rather than use the church to build people when it’s merely about numbers. Such an attitude comes from self focus rather than love. Yet they wonder why God is not blessing their efforts. 

What’s even more disturbing is the response our church leaders are getting to outreach, regardless the motivation. Sure you can do a sermon on evangelism, you can ask them to write a check in support of missionaries, you can even ask them to memorize the great commission, and it’s all good. However, if you ask people to get directly involved, many start throwing a fit. Sure, they want to see growing numbers, but they don’t want to have to make any kind of sacrifice for it. Despite the fact, that true worship involves sacrifice. It’s quite revealing as to where peoples hearts are at. It reveals a lack of spiritual maturity as well as a lack of empathy. 

Apparently, the church has failed somewhere along the line to create such a heartless generation of believers. Until the hearts of the people who make up the church can be rebuilt to the point where there is room enough for the lost, any efforts to do outreach are hampered greatly. If the church wants to grow numerically, then its present members need to grow up in the spirit. 

a heartless zombie offering a gift
Your heart's not in it

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Living Education

One last thing about our second purpose of church, education. People today tend to view belief, knowledge, and action as three separate and distinct things. So when we read verses like John 6:29  Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” It may seem like knowledge and action are irrelevant. But what if I told you that the audience that initially received this message didn’t see it that way. The Hebrew point of view saw belief, knowledge, and action as integrated. If you truly belied, you showed it by expanding your knowledge of it. If you truly believed you acted upon said knowledge. 

In recent days, the phrase “Christian atheist” has entered our culture. The idea being that there are people who claim to believe in God yet do not live as if he or his commands matter in everyday life. I’m sure this idea of fragmenting knowledge from belief from action is at the root of it. 

Now we live in an age where people get into such heated debates over definitions; as if believing the right definition is enough. Take for example, the debate over predestination. Do we live any more or less righteously either way? I think not, so why do we let the issue lead us into unrighteous behavior? We do just that when we try to convince people otherwise with impatience, unkindness, rudeness, or boasting, we just end up forsaking our Lord’s command on love; all because our belief, knowledge, and action are not integrated.

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. -Titus 3:9

 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. -James 3:9-10

man with faith strong as paper
faith on paper