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The Worldly Western Church Where You Cannot Tell The Sheep From The Goats!
Have We Lost Our Biblical "Compass"?
We Have Disobeyed A Direct Command
2 Corinthians 6:17 "Wherefore, come (imperative = command) out from among them and be ye separate...". The word "separate" is also a command but has the distinction of being in the Greek tense of "aorist imperative passive". In English, this means you and I, by command have already been separated by God, not by our actions but His alone. When we are saved, a part of our justification, includes separation; not only in our Lord's eyes but in the new nature grace has bestowed upon all believers at conversion. Our problem is the old deadly flesh that still clings to our bones; which has great difficulty giving up the old without a fight. The problem within many of our assemblies today is how easily we have given in to the worldly without even putting up modicum of a fight.
The Word Preaches Separation!
Separation - A Theme from the Beginning
From the beginning, the godly have been separated by God according to His will and purposes. From Abel's acceptable sacrifice; to the separation of languages at the tower of Babel; to calling Abram to come out from his father's house to a new land; to His election of Israel (Deuteronomy 7:7-8) to be His earthly ministers; etcetera: no one called of God did not have the calling of separating themselves for His service. The very first of the Psalms (music) is a command for the godly to separate themselves from the ungodly. Romans 1:1, Paul declares his separation unto the Gospel of Christ.
As a believer, you and I are commanded to be separate. We are not to withdraw ourselves from society as some sects teach, but to live and worship in a manner that demonstrates a testimony of one who knows the Savior intimately. We are to be different; something sadly lacking within many of our "churches" today. We dress like the world, our music sounds like the world, we educate our children like the world, our standards in discipline are lax like the world and we preach that which is somewhat palatable by the world.
The World Knows The Power of How You Dress
A Dress Code - Heaven Forbid, but.....
Come as you are is the mantra of too many churches and I have seen this invitation on the marquis of more than one church. That statement can conjure up a raft of images and unfortunately many of them appear in church on any given Sunday.
- Incredibly immodest dress and not by the totally naïve individual either. Once upon a time, you would see that this was very unacceptable for the workplace, let alone for church attendance. Flaunting your "worldly" freedom is open rebellion against the Word.
- Flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt, the most base of clothing does not befit a child of the King, in this country, when coming to fellowship and to worshiping Him.
please note: flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt are more than acceptable in the majority of assemblies of this world, for they have "nothing" else. But look around your congregation: in this country 99.9% of the people have much more appropriate wear for meeting with their god. I am sure that their employers would not tolerate such dress nor would they feel comfortable in another public setting. If this should be the best clothing they can come up with, I will then ask this question: where is the church in seeing to the needs of this individual and their family? being a slob by "choice" in this country is a symptom of rebellious pride, nothing else.
- I live in Seahawk country and during football season, the team's jersey fills the halls of our church building. It causes me to ponder whether or not, their mind is upon the message and their constant attention to the time isn't a distraction.
I would never advocate a singular dress code, but I would encourage every believer to dress in a way that would honor their God and His Word. I believe in being comfortable but I will always try to dress in a manner that would not bring me or my Church family shame should my Lord suddenly appear in our midst. We will always dress in some mode of the society in which we live and what you wear carries a message to those around you; believers and non.
"And when the King came in to see the guests, He saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and He saith unto Him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless." Matthew 22:11-12
We are the Bride of Christ!
Thank You John Dewey
Separate Your Children - Bad Idea
John Dewey, a philosopher and the founding designer of our current public school systems was an avowed critic, and I am being kind, of anything godly. Wow, the public school systems works so great why don't we incorporate this system into our churches? Now you ask: why is this a problem?
- They have included the partitioning of the adults along with the children according to age as a general rule. We have removed the wisdom of the elders from the presence of the young marrieds, the middle aged and of course, the children. Sadly, many now naturally migrate to a specific age group because the worlds' wisdom states that they will relate to one another much better. We leave off the relationship to the Word as being the primary focus. Most churches can testify to the shelving of the over-60 crowd, even if it is unintentional, yet the structure promotes this unhealthy separation.
- The pastors now know better than the Word, that children need to be left out of meaningful Bible study for they would be a distraction. At my church, I am the only teacher that encourages adults with children and those of any age to attend my class. As my mother used to say, "little donkeys have big ears" and in my home Bible studies, attendance by my younger children was a requirement. Believe me, they hear a lot more than we give them credit for I have received correction on occasion as a result of their big ears and excellent memories.
- Now the churches develop "children's and youth ministries" and the world is invited to attend our times of corporate worship and study. I believe in an active outreach program as a necessity for any assembly that wants to be a major spokesman for the Gospel of Christ. Why do we take this little precious time available to the local body and leave out the ministry to the whole being of the individual and their families? It is not the calling of the "church's" staff to do this work; per Ephesians 4, their calling is to equip the Saints to do the work of the Gospel. Now most everyone just sits back and lets the few, do all of the work, for they are the educated ones and thereby must know best. I wonder why our churches are diminishing in size and in eternal results.
The Board"s" of Education
Where O' Where Has Church Discipline Gone
We live in a day and age where if an attempt is made to discipline a member of a local congregation, they can just pack up and leave; so we don't even attempt to discipline as a general rule. I was involved in a pretty nasty potential discipline situation a few years back but the leadership took the lead and solved the problem. They wrote a letter to "one" of the parties asking them to not come back and then at the following service they announced that this prominent teacher of the Word has moved to another church, much closer to their new home. In other words; they LIED. This reminds me of a historical figure by the name of Pontius Pilate who washed his hands to be rid of a problem; what to do with Jesus. A not so funny thing about problems; if NOT dealt with, they never really go away. No one in their right mind wants to be the problem handler but the putting off or brushing the problem aside can become habit forming. This weakness within our churches is like a cancer; soon even the problems unrelated to discipline are either handled half-heartedly or not addressed at all. This drives the leadership deeper into the wisdom of the world: time heels all wounds. Whom the Lord loves, He chastens. If the "church" really loves the brethren, they need to chasten biblically.
Few Take The Strait Gate
Feeding The Sheep
I commented on a Facebook post of a cartoon very similar to the picture to the right. I wrote: "Praise the Lord for the ear-ticklers, it gets the riff-raff out the real Church." A major problem also arises when the preaching is mainly directed at the unbelievers among the congregation. A few choice "believers only" admonitions but it is the potential of new converts that becomes the ultimate goal of the preacher. In effect, starve the sheep for the sake of the ministry affirming new believer. This is cleaver lie of our worst enemy, for the devil knows that a spiritually healthy congregation will accomplish a 100 times more than any pastor who spends the sheep's precious time trying to talk someone into heaven. We throw our doors open and invite the world to partake of our private time with the Savior. Sadly, to keep the crowds coming, the Word must be minimized, for preaching the "meat" of the scripture is a two-edged sword and would drive the majority away. We need the "crowds" to maintain building, program and staff expenses.
If the pastoral staff spent their energy in keeping the congregation healthy and growing in the knowledge of God, I believe the results would be amazing. Outreach ministries would flourish, the power of the Gospel would reach more people and our Lord would receive all the glory. It is not the programs, the camps, the welcome wagon atmosphere or the entertainment aspect that would draw others to join with the Church, but the results of a Spirit led fellowship of believers as a Light to its community.