Mar 19, 2007

Illuminating a Dark World

We have spent incalculable hours plopped in uncomfortable pews listening to the various ways we can build up our brothers and sisters in Christ. We promote every conceivable method to glue our members together; ice cream socials, finger food brunches, and dinner-on-the-grounds to name a few, yet how often are we encouraged to step outside our fellowship, and mingle with the sinner who really needs our help?how often are we encouraged to step outside our fellowship, and mingle with the sinner who really needs our help?

Often, after hearing the typical Sunday morning sermon, we are left with the impression that we are to separate ourselves from the sinner completely; yes, this helps remove their influence on our lives, but it also removes our influence in their lives. We can continue to ignore the sinner on their own turf, or maybe just wait for them to show up at the church building...isn't that a novel idea!

Several churches I'm aware of practice love to the max, but primarily among themselves. Too often we get so involved in our own church relationships that we overlook those on the outside. The church should be a refuge of love for the Christian, but not a place to hide from the sinner who needs our help.

Our light shines brightest when those around us have no lamps. Going into a dark sinful world is often scary and not very pleasant, but Jesus set the example of associating with sinners in order to teach them the good news, and if we ignore their silent pleas for help, we are missing the point and looking the wrong direction. Jesus set the example in Matthew 9:12,13:
But when he heard it, he said, "those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

19 comments:

Laymond said...

you said; "Several churches I'm aware of practice love to the max, but primarily among themselves."

In any other human family that would be called incest, and as we know an incestual family will wither unless new blood is brought in from outside the family.
Even ranchers know you have to bring in new blood to keep your stock top of the line.

Larry said...

Surely the Lord's church is suppose to be a growing and vibrant society that by design must take the gospel to the lost...not content to sit idle waiting for the repentant sinner to tear down the church doors.

Milly said...

The church should be a refuge of love for the Christian, but not a place to hide from the sinner who needs our help.

AMEN!

Son of Adam said...

is evangelism a purpose of the church or individual christians?

The commission wasn't given to the churches.

Isn't the church for those already converted?

Larry said...

son of adam...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'll try to answer the questions as I understand them.

"is evangelism a purpose of the church or individual christians?"

Since the church is composed of individual Christians who are given the commission to evangelize, it is difficult for me to see any difference in responsibility to save souls, whether as an individual Christian, or as a Christian group.

"The commission wasn't given to the churches."

Christians individually compose the church; if each Christian is given the commission, than it seems reasonable (at least to me) that the church also is responsible to carry out the commission; individually and as a group.

"Isn't the church for those already converted?"

Yes, but the church should not be a social club primarily functioning for its members only, but willing to reach out to those in the community needing physical help, as well as fulfilling the commission of saving souls.

Larry said...

Milly...
Thanks for the "amen," we need those occasionally. :)

Laymond said...

Larry; son of adam brought to my mind what I believe has become a prevasive problem in christianity. we depend upon the church too much.
Many members you ask how they obey the commisions given them will answer thru the church. I actually believe that could be a mistake.
Evangelism---thru the church
Charity--thru church giving.
prayer--in the church
edifying - church
what all do we lay at the feet of the church. How about Love thy God and thy neighbor. that leaves us time to make money, is that what it is all about deligation. dependence on others. because we are busy.

Larry said...

Laymond...
Depending on each other is a significant part of being a Christian. The church is able to pool its resources and do a lot of work individual Christians would find near impossible.

The individual Christian is certainly still responsible for evangelization, charity, etc. whether the church does anything to help or not, but I see no problem working as a body of Christians to do the Lord's work...which includes taking the word to those outside Christ.

Danny said...

Good post Larry.

My picture of the church is a belonging place where all are welcome.

Larry said...

Danny...
Thanks for coming by and adding to the comments. I appreciate your blog and the good stuff you provide your readers.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but the best way I can see to convert a sinner is to roll up our sleeves and tackle the problem where it lies...right in the sinners backyard!

"My picture of the church is a belonging place where all are welcome."

Absolutely!

Laymond said...

Larry; you said, "The church is able to pool its resources and do a lot of work individual Christians would find near impossible."
brother I don't see where we will be judged on the big things we do.
Just those things we are able to do. we need to share with others as we are blessed. remember the woman and her penny. my experence with the church getting involved with "Big Things" have resulted in misuse of money, to much money going to wages, and other things other than the original project.

Larry said...

Laymond...
Your right, there can be a lot of waste in the churches use of its resources.

"brother I don't see where we will be judged on the big things we do."

I wasn't insinuating that big things would bring us more glory, but a group effort often works better in certain situations, such as helping a missionary in an area where one individual Christian would have trouble in helping because of the distance, etc.

I see no reason we shouldn't work together as a church to promote the work of the Lord, whether it be things small, or large.

Laymond said...

Larry I agree.with what you said just pointing to some flaws in delegating our duty to others. I stopped giving most of my charitable giving through the church a long time ago, when I saw it being spent on trips to Mexico and Irland taking 40 people when two could do the job everyone had a camera and plenty of pictures came home, somehow I thought it might have been a sightseeing trip. I hope I was wrong. somehow I don't think they will ever miss the "penny" I was able to contribute to those trips.

Larry said...

Laymond...
I understand your frustration with the way some churches use the Lord's money.

Some churches hire more people than the federal government to do jobs the average member should be doing free gratis.

Laymond said...

Larry I can tell you some stories that will make the "little white tablecloth" story I believe you told seem like an absolutly necessary part of worship. I recall a time in the past church where we took special collection fot a bus to pick up children who had no ride to church. what I don't recall is it ever being used for that, and no increase in children in church. I do remember the youth deacon carrying member's children to events which had nothing to do with church. skiing trips and so forth. I do remember the preacher's wife carrying church ladies to Ft. Worth and Dallas on shopping spres. or just ladies teas. Those things are all well and good, I just don't want to pay for them while my wife is working in the hospital as a nurse and at the time I was working every day on my old equipment trying to keep it where we could make a living (Oilfield construction). My opinion is don't depend on others to save your soul,I believe you can see where I developed that opinion.

Laymond said...

Brother I thought about e-mailing you about this question I am about to ask you to answer,but in stead I would like other's comments also Is the church of christ doomed to fall?
I am doing research on a post to appear soon on my blog, I appreciate all the help I can get.It is a sobering thought.

Larry said...

laymond...

"...Is the church of christ doomed to fall?"

If by church of christ you mean the one and only true universal body of Christ...never!

If you mean the many splintered Church of Christ groups spawned by the RM...some will lose much of their vigor, but I don't see them disappearing anytime soon.

If you mean the legalistic branches of the Church of Christ that mold their members into humanistic traditional zombies...I hope so!

timeless said...

As a single woman, I too would have a problem with churches that appear to promote a social - and secular - agenda as illustrated in one of Laymond's comments. I find that examples of churches being so exclusive in many areas is worrisome, and some of this exclusivism may extend to those who are indeed members of that church. It's probably a good thing that I do not look to the church as a total source of my "socialness" - that's not why I attend. Rather, I view this Christian family as a collective catalyst, if you will, in experiencing worship through the presence of the Spirit, as we try to grow closer to our Lord and Saviour. That's not to say that I don't have close friends there...I do...but then, I have close friends who are Christians in other churches that aren't named "CoC". And I have close friends and family who are "unchurched" as well. One never knows what God has planned in our associations, both inside and outside the "church". If a Christian only feels "safe" with choosing associations and friendships in their church, then that state of mind is also worrisome...the operative word being "safe". Our motives for whatever we do in this earthly life is an important factor in our "associations", and churches which are part of the Body of Christ need to know the full value of grace and to keep their eyes upon Jesus, above all. This is certainly at the core of my feeling "included" in my church family, and this is how I know I belong to Jesus. If we believe (as we should) that God will lead us individually and collectively, we shouldn't even be having this conversation. But...we are all very human and are also sinners, so the conversation will always come up, and there will be those who will "press the point" of minute issues as to whom (and where) the responsibilities of the Great Commission fall upon.

Every single member of the body of Christ has their own unique talents in fulfilling this commission, and sometimes only God recognizes these talents. We all need to be aware of this. Then, and only then, will we achieve the level of unity God expects of us, and exclusivism has no part in this goal. (THANK YOU, Lord, for the saving blood of your Son, and forgive us when we fall short of your expectations!)

Thanks, Larry, for yet another insightful entry. God truly has your heart. And I knew that your phrase "loving to the MAX" meant "agape"... :)

Larry said...

carolyn...
WOW!!! some great comments...always appreciate your wisdom.

You should think about starting a blog; you have much to say that needs to be shared.