Posts Tagged ‘faith’

We have known churches where the members can scarcely sit down at the Lord’s Table without some disagreement. There are always people who are finding fault with the minister, and there are ministers finding fault with the people; there is among them “a spirit that lusteth to envy,” and “where envy and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”… Alas! How continually do we hear accounts of disputings and variance in churches!” C.H. Spurgeon

problem goat

“A want of love to one another,” is Spurgeon’s descriptor. Hundreds of years ago the want of love was present, even in the early church the want of love was present, thus the plentiful Scripture passages regarding the need of love to one another.

Please don’t misunderstand, my intent isn’t to slander of the Bride of Christ. All too common is a slanderous spirit toward the church, where people are all too willing to join in and say the church is loveless. Spurgeon’s point isn’t that of a disgruntled church goer who is disenfranchised.  Those deprived and marginalized souls who accuse blame, and condemn the church for almost every slight, injustice, or social problem are those who view the church as a service provider and who are part of the problem.

Somehow the cutting edge of some modern religious movements has become the rejection of systematized and organized church. You aren’t cool and Jesusy if you don’t bemoan the errors of the church and meet in someone’s house. It is as if spirituality is measured by how much one can reject anything that is a tradition handed down.

What is replacing the old models? It has been replaced with either chaos, or modern consumer driven paradigms that provide the product of choice, at the moment, according to fickle consumptive desire. With this attitude the Bride of Christ is despised and not loved. This rejection is a multifaceted cacophony of opinion, where authenticity, genuineness, and spontaneity presume to fix all that ales the church.

The church always can mature, we always need to be reforming and cutting away the cultural blinders. Loving the church and love for our brothers is part and parcel of this demeanor. Jesus loved the church, he commanded that we love the church, and the manner of love for the church we possess is a marker of our faith in Christ. John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” It is not as though Christians need to love ecclesiastical structures, heritage, or traditions. What is being stated, is that the manner of love for one another determines the manner in which those items are handled.

The church is the vehicle of God’s own choosing for spreading the fame of His name among the nations. We gather to love one another, worship, and be sent out into the world as missionaries; to be salt and light to the world. Let us not give way to the cultural religious trend of rejecting the church. Let us not fall victims to the classic blunder of getting so deeply involved in church structure that we fail to actually love the church.  A want of love for one another undercuts God honoring actions of the church, but love for one another demonstrates the glory of the One we worship.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24–25

Moldable

Posted: March 30, 2016 in Blog, Pastor's Corner
Tags: , , , ,

Being moldable in the hands of The Maker—is a good idea, which goes along with the whole new years resolution idea; and yes three months into 2016 and I’m still talking about resolutions for the Year.

Being moldable clay in the hands of the potter isn’t a bad idea. Being malleable in the makers hand to be made into something awesome, is a great notion. It is common then to bring biblical passages with potter and clay imagery as justification for staying pliable in God’s hands, so that He can, again, make you into something awesome. You know what I mean, being made all Jesusy and what not.

It seems that this common notion leads to a common conclusion, that is, our job is to remain moldable. However the last time I was around a potter, even though I crushed an unbaked cup, which surprises no one, I noticed something important—the clay was inanimate and kept moldable by the potter. Great efforts were taken to keep the clay perfect for making the pottery.

What mustn’t be lost in biblical potter and clay images, is that God in His sovereign might, takes clay and fashions it as He pleases.  Jeremiah 18, uses the pottery imagery as a call to repentance for the people of God. God’s people were not walking God’s covenant by faith. Potter and clay imagery is a warning that God has absolute authority to judge man as He pleases; at other times it is a statement of man’s subservient stance in relation with God.

Even so, the concept of being moldable isn’t without biblical backing, and it is spoken more negatively and in terms of repentance. What will happen to the stiff neck sinner? One who doesn’t respond to the Word of God in repentance? Judgment or sudden brokenness without healing is the result; which sounds like judgment, and sounds like the need to be pliable, or repent, is the superior option. Proverbs 29:1, “He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.

Let’s not sugar coat the obvious and what is commanded and warned in the Scriptures. The concept of being moldable is akin to the idea of repentance. Repentance is always in conjunction with faith in Jesus Christ. What happens to hardened and stiff things when they are worked and shaped? They either become moldable and malleable, or they break in a sudden and brittle fashion.

During this Year have you been malleable? Have your resolutions to live or do a certain thing taken shape in your life? Will you allow the Word of the Lord to shape you?  Will you be characterized by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ?

At the end of each year heading into the New Year, people make resolutions seeking change. Some resolutions are necessary components for living a better life. Other resolutions simply serve to satisfy vain, proud, or covetous desires. Mostly, resolutions seem to come from a sense of new beginnings boding, well… something new. All too often though resolutions fall flat. A New Year resolution carries the infamy of the Chicago Cubs; failure is inevitable.

Conventional wisdom might say, regarding resolutions then, that less is more. If a resolution is made, it needs to be small and attainable. But if you are going to go for gold don’t hold any hopes of keeping resolved. Sadly this seems to be the popular manner of making resolutions, which garners well-deserved mockery.

How then should resolutions be regarded? Are they even necessary?DownloadedFile Are they to be taken lightly without the real intent to follow through? Are they simply the moralist’s path to greater self-righteousness? Or do they serve the purpose of working toward your best life now? Is a resolution meant to achieve the peace of full self-actualization? (The peace of self-actualization is nothing more than the western ideological equivalent to the eastern concepts of Nirvana). What are we to do with this New Year tradition?

The answer is relatively simple, make resolutions and resolve to do something good. Everyone must come to grips with pledge making on their own terms, deciding when, how, where, and why, or even if any will be made at all. Resolutions are simply goals, pledges, promises, commitments, and things of the like. In the end it is important for yes to be yes, and no to be no. A resolution could be a beneficial thing, but it also must not be regarded as the moralist’s shovel of redemption. The commit to achieve the best life now, apart from the only One who can give life, will only bring judgment in the end.

A resolution can be beneficial if it is used in proportion to faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus doesn’t desire the work yielded from a resolution. Jesus wants you to trust in him for all things. He desires that you trust in what he resolved to do upon the cross over 2000 years ago, he wants you to trust him now. If a resolution stands for the purpose of making you a better person, so that you might have more good in your ledger than bad… you need a different plan.

However, a resolution can be a tool used by faith. By faith you can resolve to walk in a manner worthy of your calling in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 4:1, urges the believer, “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” What calling is this? It is the effectual calling of the Lord Jesus upon his children, whereby he saves them. It is the calling of effectual grace upon the believer’s life. This calling of God upon a person is evident by the exercise of genuine faith in Jesus Christ. Because of this calling, by faith, you can resolve to walk in a particular manner. Making a pledge, a commitment, a resolution to do such has the potential to facilitate the desire to walk in the obedience of faith.

A New Year resolution carries the potential for harm or for good. Like many things in life, they often have the potential for becoming disproportionate to faith in Jesus Christ. In the end, let your yes be yes, and your no be no; trust in Christ Jesus alone and not your resolve to improve. Shoulder the purpose in life to workout your salvation with fear and trembling, resolving to do all to the glory of God while you still live.