Marvel at the church in all her glory
I recently heard a minister make a powerful and thought-provoking statement. Upon hearing his declaration, I marveled at how insightful it was — and I further observed that he had managed to say in a few words what I had been trying to articulate for some time. Commenting on the church In America he said, “The problem in the church is not that we are not trying to make disciples. The problem is that we think we are succeeding.”
While I am certain that there are many who are successful in bringing saints into the maturity of Christ — there are, however, some issues of concern that merit our attention. It is not about being “old-school” or “contemporary” in our approach — it’s about whether or not we are building the church according to the Biblical pattern. I believe that Jesus started the church like He wanted it; and He wants it like He started it. Is it possible that we can deceive ourselves into comfort and ease while falling short of Biblical standards? While the church has become more educated, sophisticated, and cutting-edge in its approach to evangelism and discipleship; is it truly measuring up to the “…stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ”? (Ephesians 4:13)
In our efforts to be relevant and appealing have we sacrificed kingdom essentials like true conviction of sin, the power of His presence, the recognition and awe of His holiness, and the necessity of steadfast obedience to His Word by grace through faith? Is it possible that in some cases we have become more seeker-friendly than God-fearing? We seem to have replaced the mourner’s bench with the support group, and instead of praying-through we just talk it out with our mentor until our self-image has improved. Instead of gospel singers we have contemporary artists, and instead of preachers we have motivational speakers. We don’t spend time seeking the face of God until we get in touch with Heaven, as much as we share with each other until we “find ourselves”. It seems that often we are more concerned with pacifying emotions and entertaining the flesh than we are about producing the character of Christ in saints as they grow in grace. Happiness seems to be more of a priority than holiness, and raising awareness often appears to be more important than instruction in righteousness. Too often, instead of being preserving salt and penetrating light we become sickeningly sweet with compromise, and foolishly flirtatious with darkness. Has the power of Pentecost been exchanged for friendly persuasion, and are we better planners than we are prayer-warriors? It is not a matter of one or the other — but of the greater one before the other.
At the heart of what I am trying to articulate is simply this: Jesus Christ is the Head of His church; and as such is calling us to heavenly standards in the building up of the Body of Christ. Likewise, we are not to have our own goals — but we are to be faithful to His and to His methods in achieving them. Our methods are not carnal and crafty, but mighty through the manifestation of the truth by the Holy Spirit. The blueprint is the Word of God; and the end result is that the church be pleasing to Jesus Christ Who is soon returning to glorify her. Here is how Jesus describes His church: Ephesians 5:26-27 “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”
(“From the Pulpit” is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)