Sunday, May 19, 2013

Purpose of church 3 - outreach (conclusion)

I know I have focused upon a lot of the negative side of how we the church have failed in outreach, rather than how we should proceed with evangelism. One of the reasons for that is there isn’t much to be said about how to proceed other than we need to approach it with love and humility as Christ did. Secondly, the churches error in this matter is so common and widespread that a serious light needs to be cast upon it. We need to be calling ourselves out on this one. In many ways, condemnation and criticism seems to be mankind's default setting. It was the teachers of the law and the Pharisees way of doing things in Jesus’ time, and we have been repeating that mistake consistently for the past two-thousand years. But here is the “good news.” The word gospel means good news, so it needs to put to the forefront, eventually. There is forgiveness for hypocrites who have tainted their Christian love with condemnation and criticism. They need only turn away from the hateful ways of the sinful flesh and turn towards the nurturing ways of the spirit. They need to face up to and confess their error; they need to repent in their heart. Then maybe God’s spirit would move us towards revival again.

I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again. We cannot force people to live righteous lives. Holiness that does not come from the heart is not genuine. The only way we can truly encourage people to choose Jesus’ teachings for themselves is to inspire them. We cannot do that if we are not living the life ourselves.
(Genesis 39:2-4)

Do everything in love. -1 Corinthians 16:14 

‎"It is easy to know that 'there is a way somewhere,' and even perhaps to know that others aren't on it... But this knowledge is useless unless it helps one find the way. If it merely becomes a standard of judgment, a means of showing up others and judging them for having lost their way, it is no use to anyone." 
-Thomas Merton

bullied rose
Bullied Rose
"Why should it bloom, look what it has to open up to."

Friday, May 17, 2013

Purpose of church 3 - OUTREACH part 4

Maybe you’ve heard that 6 of the 10 commandments deal with how we relate to each other. Human interaction was certainly a mainstay in Jesus’ teaching as well. So obviously how we treat each other is important to God, so naturally we need to keep this in mind with our outreach efforts. Let’s do that by looking at Matthew 7:1-5, it’s not a passage typically associated with outreach, but maybe that’s why we have failed in it. 

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. NIV

Verse 1 is often given credit for being the most quoted in all the Bible. That fact in itself is a testament to just how hateful this world really is. People are using it to defend against the barrage of criticism we experience every day. Yet, most completely overlook verses 3-4 where we are instructed to turn that discerning eye upon ourselves. Let’s face it, change cannot happen without willingness. As much as we wish we could, we just can’t truly make people feel the way we want. The best we can accomplish with condemnation is the insincere surface obedience of forced submission. Yet it’s quite easy to produce just the opposite result when we fuel the spirit of rebellion by correcting without love. It’s no wonder Christ encourages us to focus on our own righteousness before others in this passage. Our own errors are precisely the faults we have the most power to change. But have we embraced or even noticed that detail at all? Yet, if we really lived that way and dealt with our own sin as intended. Our eye would be clear enough to realize that to correct in pride and anger is nothing more than correcting sin with sin, which is ineffective for obvious reasons.  Which is just what verse 5 revels to us. Yet, when we do correct in our arrogant pride what happens? Well Christ warns us of that in verse 6. If you are ambitious enough to look that up for yourself you may realize that the church is experiencing that now more than ever. The nonbelievers are very much trampling all over the truth and turning on believers via the media because of our unloving and self-righteous attitudes. 

Let me close by reiterating this thought. Righteousness is something we should never take pride in. Not just because it invalidates our righteousness. (Psalm 31:21) For in the end righteousness can only be achieved with God’s help, strength, and spirit. Scripture confirms this in many ways. Including the subsequent verses following our central passage (verses 7-12) Anyone who has truly repented and dealt with their sin by the strength of the spirit would have humility to realize this is something we need to be thankful to God for, not seeking credit for ourselves. We should be praising our savior for it, not cursing people. If we truly took this passage to heart we would be helping people in their walk toward holiness, not condemning them for their failure. 

person accusing another without first looking at his own faults
I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you over your plank