Friday, November 28, 2008

Insulting God: Organizing the Dead in His Name

Sixth in a Series

When the Lord lays something on my heart to write about, sometimes I have no idea where it's going to lead. Back in Part 1, when I wrote down the three points on which I planned to base the next three entries, I didn't dream that it would take four additional entries just to lay the foundation for addressing point one!

Believe it or not, we're finally ready. (If you haven't read any of the previous entries in the series, please do so least parts 2, 3, & 4.)

Here, once again, is Point 1:
We insult God when act as if we can and should expect unregenerate people in our society to live just like those who have been born again by God's Spirit.

(Photo from Stock.xchng by c_francis)

The fact is, our "Christian" churches are full of people who are not born again by the Spirit of God. That's not just in the pews, either. Often it's behind the pulpit as well. The Bible calls this phenomenon "The blind leading the blind," and it gives them a grim prognosis (Luke 6:39).

Frustrated church leaders respond to frustrated church members who want something more, something new, something exciting, something relevant. God Himself is none of those things, and neither is His Word... or so it seems to these modern, enlightened folks. They look at their religious experiences (which are nothing more than what their own flesh, and their fleshly leaders, can drum up), and they're dissatisfied. But instead of realizing that the problem is within themselves and their truly unregenerate hearts, they blame God and His Word.

More and more, the "church" agrees with the world in its disdain for the God of the Bible, and rushes to show that it can be "just as good" as the world is. Instead of repenting in dust and ashes like Job (Job 42:6), the "church" repents of its foolish attachment to old-fashioned notions of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, along with any notions of absolute truth.

But the natural man does not receive
the things of the Spirit of God,
for they are foolishness to him;
nor can he know them,
because they are spiritually discerned

(1Co 2:14).

Many pastors have given up shepherding the flock of God, and have lusted after bigger and bigger flocks of goats. It's the numbers in the pews that count, after all. And since it is beyond the pastors' power to change goats into sheep, and they don't believe that such miraculous transformations are possible anyway, they can only congratulate themselves on accomplishing the same works that the world does, with their own culled-out, bleating flock.
"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
Matt 25:31-32
"See, our flock can do anything that the world does! Come see how well we do it!" And when the world's goats come into the church building, they feel right at home.

Because they are right at home.

If you were of the world,
the world would love its own.
Yet because you are not of the world,
but I chose you out of the world,
therefore the world hates you
(John 15:19)

And the goats' comfort, the goats' acceptance, the goats' approval makes the preachers feel that they've done their job.
Woe to you
when all men speak well of you,
for so did their fathers
to the false prophets.
Luke 6:26
Many church leaders know nothing of the Master Gardener's work in their own lives, and do not see Him at work in their congregations. So they busy themselves running around helping dead, disconnected branches tie plastic fruit onto themselves so they'll look like they're abiding in the Vine. Worse yet, they spit on the Vine, declare that they do not need Him, and devise endless new programs for marshaling their resources and waxing their fake grapes.
Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Matt 7:20).
Honestly believing that one hundred walking dead are better than ten Spirit-filled sons and daughters of the Living God, churches devote massive amounts of energy to organizing spiritual cadavers into a marching army of do-gooders, determined to make the Titanic's passengers as comfortable as possible. And whenever anyone tries to tell them that they're on a doomed ship, they cover their ears and cry, "Judgmental!"

And the band plays on. At least the music is new, and relevant, and catchy, and loud. The goats will approve!
How can you believe,
who receive honor from one another,
and do not seek the honor that comes
from the only God?

John 5:44
Woe to us all! Because if the True Church, the blood-bought sheep of God's flock, were truly walking in the Spirit, truly abiding in the Vine, then no phony religion could usurp its place and call itself Christianity.
He who says he abides in Him
ought himself also to walk
just as He walked.

1Jn 2:6

If all of the sheep were walking in the Spirit, if all of us looked more like sheep than like goats, we'd be obviously out of place in this world. The world would hate us as it hated Christ. Instead it hates us in an entirely different way.

It hates the self-righteous, religious thing that we've become. It prefers the proud goats to the backslidden sheep.

Oh people of God, we need to repent! If the world will not own Him, will we leave Him to gain their approval? Does their love and acceptance mean that much to us?

Brothers and sisters, if the world loves us, then we are not of Christ.
We are goats, not sheep.

If we truly are sheep,
and the world hates us because of our fleshly religion,
then we are not walking in the Spirit.

But if the world hates us because of Christ Himself,
and because of His Spirit empowering us,
then we are blessed indeed.

Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
Heb 13:13

Let the dead bury their dead (Matt. 8:22), and let them march with their dead, and implement programs with their dead. But do not leave them unchallenged in their delusion that they do these things in the Holy Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The honor of His Name must be reclaimed by those who are willing to be hated for Him (Matt. 10:22), to be the offscourings of the earth for Him (1 Co. 4:13), to be persecuted for Him (1 Co. 4:11-12), to lose everything for Him (Php. 3:8), to love our enemies as He did (Rom. 5:8), to hate sin for His sake (Ps. 97:10), to love not our lives even unto death (Rev. 12:11). And most importantly, it must be reclaimed by those who will do these things in the Spirit, not in the flesh; who treasure Christ above all.

When the True Church takes up its cross, and Christ's reproach, and burns with holy passion for Him, He will bring many of those dead to life through our testimony. We won't need cleverly devised witnessing schemes, because we will speak with the very power of God (1 Co. 1:20-31, 2 Pet. 1:16).

If America had been blessed with such a church all these years, would we be in the dire situation we find ourselves in now?

Lord, please revive Your church! Please beautify Your bride! Grant us repentance, and teach us to walk humbly with our God. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.


Yvonne said...

This is so refreshing to hear this. You would fit right into our church. Many around us think us very old-fashioned and narrow-minded. We have a small attendance (avg.30) but ones that love to study the Bible. We sing the old hymns and don't have lots of activities. Thank you for writing this, Betsy.


Anonymous said...

I have read all series and I can honestly say that you write deep and truthful... but this truth is not nice... God will prune and many who think that they are connected to vine will fall away...

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Favorite portion...(makes me laugh and weep at the same time):

"So they busy themselves running around helping dead, disconnected branches tie plastic fruit onto themselves so they'll look like they're abiding in the Vine. Worse yet, they spit on the Vine, declare that they do not need Him, and devise endless new programs for marshaling their resources and waxing their fake apples."

Such an apt description of how we're trying to "make" worship into something it was never intended to be...a feeling.

Worship is an obedience. Feelings follow.

Thank you for your reflective thoughts. I always leave your blog with mroe than what I came with.


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