Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Love to one another, and for one another is important. It’s intuitive, right? If I were to write a manual on this subject it might be titled ‘Love for Dummies’.  But that title has already been taken. Under this title is a highly secularized picture of love. The title itself implies that this is an easy matter, and dummies need it spelled out for them through the lowest common denominator.

Love one another, easy enough, right? And if others don’t get it, just say it louder!

Let it suffice to say, love really isn’t that easy. It is a matter that takes a lifetime to figure out, and the power of Jesus to function within. For the Christian the call to love each other is so common, if not altogether cliche, that it really isn’t heard.

In the Gospel of Matthew we see that this call extends beyond affection for those whom we are in fellowship with, or even those whom we find highly important. In Matthew 18:10–14, an exhortation on the love for souls is given, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”  

Here we read a command to value those considered unimportant. Functionally it is call to love. It might be skewed by some as children are almost deified in our society, and agricultural precepts are lost on most. Here is a command to pursue those who are lesser or obstinately off on their own and not worth the time.

In other cultures, and in particularly the historic context of the passage, children are regarded as less than. And stray sheep are regarded as an inconvenient matter that is handled according to economic measures. Jesus paints a picture with children and the singular sheep, as the lesser, and how they are not to be despised, but regarded as highly important. 

This example points to something greater than simply treating children well, or keeping the herd gathered. Rather it presses the hearer to consider the souls of others, even those of lesser value, as greatly important. Even within religious people there is a utilitarian tendency to cast aside those who are down trodden and unimportant, especially those who are burdensome. 

Don’t get me wrong, the church does many great things, we give many great things in an effort to love those in need, but the lack of love in the world would demand that Christians consider how we might fill that void. It has often been stated that Christians shoot the weak or wounded, rather than love those who are inconvenient. Kids are inconvenient, and so is a lost sheep, as are many people God places directly in our paths. Do we really regard the weak and wounded as too much of a burden? Do we really have a want of love for the souls of mankind?

I don’t think the church is as bad, or as good as some would frame it. Many regard others to be less than and insignificant. This is a heart matter that Christians must deal with. Remember Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost, to love the souls of men, and seek to keep them from perishing through the message of the cross. By God’s grace we are invited to do the same.

How do you love the souls of men? Do you despise the little ones? Do you seek after the one, rejoice over the one? Take the time this week to think about your want of love for the souls of others. 

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

Church Problems

Posted: December 6, 2017 in Blog
Tags: , , , , ,

In the last post I considered the Westminster Confession of Faith, and C.H. Spurgeon’s threefold critique of the church. The WCF presented the church as always on the earth to worship God, and the church will be imperfect until glorification at Christ’s return. Spurgeon posited that the three major problems he dealt with in the church were lovelessness toward God, each other, and the lost.

The problem of the church being arranged into these groupings is that in some way there is a failure to recognize that her problems are as myriad and pronounced as there are members of the body. Meaning that the problem of the church is the people. The ministry would be great if it wasn’t for the people! Don’t get distracted by a stupid pastoral pun. It’s equally true that pastors are the problem, because they are part of the church, and are themselves people.

The church is the bride of Christ who is flawed, but who gathers for the sake of worshiping in Spirit and in Truth. This corporate worship exists for many important purposes, one of which is consecration, meaning that gathered followers of Christ are being transformed from one degree of glory to another, in turn bringing glory to Christ. We gather to grow as a corporate whole, and individually; we gather for the glory of Christ; we gather as the redeemed who are not yet glorified; we gather as the imperfect & flawed bride, whom Christ accepted and loved.

This imperfect gathering of Christ followers looks to the hope of future perfection reveling in the promise of heavenly glory. We seek to mature in Christ, build one another up in love, for the glory of Christ.

It is much easier to point out the problems of the church rather than deal with your own issues. Really, who wants to gather with the church to hear about their faults? Gatherings in Christ are  not for the sake of paying penance or expiation for weekly misdeeds. Nor is it for the sake of merely gaining information. An important purpose in gathering is for hearing the Word of God preached, by which the aroma of life creeps into the dark caverns of life exposing darkness to the light. If in Christ wereceive the Word of God meekly implanted it will save our souls, (James 1:21) purifying the spotless bride of Christ, (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Over the next few weeks we will examine our imperfections, taking time to think biblically about the flaws of the church: a want of love to one another; a want of love to souls; and a want of love to Jesus Christ.