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Stop Beating Up the Church

Boxing

The last few years have led to an explosion of a counter-church culture.  Book after book, article after article, blog after blog, and so on, were devoted to why people leave the church and the problems of the church. I don’t deny that there are problems in churches – even healthy churches are messy and full of fallen people on the road to holiness and redemption.  I also know that there are many churches that are missing the point of being a church. And there have been many valid points made by some of these books and articles.

But I want to provide an encouragement to you – stop beating up the church! 

Jesus’ words are haunting for those who are in the “I don’t like the church” camp.  In John 13:34-35, Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Further, John targets the “leave the church because it’s jacked up” crowd.  1 John 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.  Whoever does not love abides in death.”

Instead of beating up the church and leaving the church and slandering the church, let me offer you some exhortations and challenges to take on.

1. Learn to love the brothers

This isn’t easy.  And people hurt you.  And you hurt people.  But did you know that God in His Word assumes that the church will be messy and full of problems?  Read Matthew 18.  Read 1 Corinthians 1-9.  Read Galatians 6.  Read James 5.  Read Ephesians 4.  Read Revelation 2 & 3.

After you realize that God knows His people are jacked up, now read 1 Corinthians 13 – the “love” chapter.  Did you know that you’re required to love the church that way?  In fact, the testimony of the Bible is that if you don’t love the church, then you are bearing the fruit of an unbeliever, of one who “abides in death”.

Learn to love your brothers and sisters in Christ.  It takes work.  It takes patience.  It takes humility.  It takes submission.  It takes grace.  It isn’t for the faint of heart.  It isn’t for the unbeliever.  But if you are a believer, then you must learn to love the brothers.

2. Learn to be devoted to the brothers

You will either be devoted to the church and ultimately to Jesus, or you will be devoted to the way of the world and the pursuits of the culture at large.  But you can’t do both.

I wrote a blog post about being devoted to the church.  You should read it.

The grace of the Lord is such that He knows that we need each other.  In part, this is what it means to be human – that you need relationships!  When God created Adam, He said, “it is not good that the man should be alone…” (Genesis 2:18).  Over and over in Genesis we read that God created His image bearers male and female.

The point is that when God saved you, He saved you into His family – the Church.  Be devoted to it, unless you think you know better than God.

3. Learn to build up the brothers

When you talk, only say things “such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).  Learn to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

Along with your words, let your actions serve to build up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-13).  Sometimes this means serving others regardless of whether or not it fits your job description.  Sometimes this means submitting to others even if you’re right.  Sometimes this means supporting others in their ministry endeavors.  But above all, “put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14).

Conclusion

I am glad for insightful people who point out glaring issues in the church.  The church needs to be in a constant state of evaluation – using the Bible as the mirror and measuring stick.

But let that propel you into deeper love, devotion, and growth instead of walking away from the church, slandering the church, and believing the church is without hope.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21

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Weekend Blog Review

blog review

 

Below are some important blogs from around the web that I found helpful reading over the weekend…

Guard and Guide Your Kids Online

In this post on the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s website, Candice Watters writes of the importance and necessity of monitoring and guarding your children while they participate in online activities.  She also gives some helpful and simple action steps to take which will help ensure a loving atmosphere that is less authoritarian and more caring and explanatory.  I found this paragraph and these questions from Watters to be riveting and helpful for perspective, especially in the type of culture of parenting in which parents just want to give everything they can to their children so that their children will love them and be happy:

What if your son or daughter wanted to buy a venomous snake for a pet? What if they had birthday money to pay for it? What if they wanted to let it sleep with them at night? At what point would you say no? If your son or daughter has a straight-up, unaltered wi-fi enabled iPad, iPhone, or similar device, they have the equivalent of a snake. The factory settings won’t protect them from online danger. What should parents do?

Should John 7:53-8:11 Be Moved to a Footnote?

Jim Hamilton, pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, KY, and professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, made a compelling argument as to why John 7:53-8:11 ought to not be included in our translations of the Bible.  Owen Strachan makes the suggestion that this passage ought to be included in a footnote in which it is explained that some early manuscripts added it in.

This sermon and then this blog post by Dr. Strachan is a good reminder that the work of Biblical exploration and criticism is not done, but needs to be ongoing as we can be continuing to fine-tune our translations of the Bible to ensure Biblical accuracy.

World Vision Returns to a Biblical Definition of Marriage

Denny Burk, professor at Boyce College in Louisville, KY, wrote a summary article on World Vision’s decision to reverse their decision to accept and hire people in same-sex marriages in their organization.  Dr. Burk says this about WV’s decision:

(World Vision’s statement) admits violating the authority of scripture and the Bible’s teaching on marriage. Signed by the President Richard Stearns, the letter expresses humble confession and repentance. It even asks for forgiveness from donors and other supporters. I was heartened and encouraged by what I read in the letter. I think this kind of public repentance is courageous, and I praise the Lord for it.

Is Church Membership Really Required

This is a great post about Church Membership and one that is full of wisdom as regards to how many believers and churches currently view Church Membership.  I often see where ex-church goers still claim to have Jesus, and they usually say something along these lines, “I don’t need to the church to have Jesus.”  This post is helpful for thinking these types of thoughts out.  One especially helpful paragraph was in response to the idea that Church Membership is not biblical.  The author, Ricky Jones, says this:

Every letter in the New Testament assumes Christians are members of local churches. The letters themselves are addressed to local churches. They teach us how to get along with other members, how to encourage the weak within the church, how to conduct ourselves at church, and what to do with unrepentant sinners in the church. They command us to submit to our elders, and encourage us to go to our elders to pray. All these things are impossible if you aren’t a member of a local church. (See 1 and 2 Corinthians, James, Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and 1 Peter for references.)

 

Conclusion

There is much to be aware of in our culture today – both the Christian culture and in the overall culture of our age.  Reading good, clear articles is helpful and encouraging, while at the same time useful for people who may not have the time to sit down and read long books or who may even be discouraged by reading longer books.  Reading blogs online can help cultivate a desire to “take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5, also the reason for this blog-site)”.  Also, reading blogs online can help cultivate a culture of reading for individuals, which can further help create greater desires to get into longer books and discourses.  Grace and peace to you this week!

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Weekend Blog Review

blog review

 

I found blogs in the past are extremely helpful when the author periodically provides the readership with other blogs on the internet that they have read and found intriguing.  Therefore, I hope to provide a blog on Monday’s that will give a short review (one or two paragraphs) on a blog I have read and then of course the link to the blog for the readers to go read for themselves.  Each one will provide 3-4 different engaging blogs each week.

Pray for Hobby Lobby and the SCOTUS Decision

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention provides a helpful article for Christians to think and engage in this weeks decision in the Supreme Court of the United States of America regarding Hobby Lobby and their seeking the ability to conduct business with the support of freedom of religion and with Christian conscience.

We as Christians ought to be particularly interested in this case since it could have far reaching implications for the future of business and religious liberty in America.

Fred Phelps and the Ant-Gospel of Hate by Dr. R. Albert Mohler

Fred Phelps passed away last week.  He was the Pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.  Westboro is most famous for its protesting funerals of US Armed Military and being most hateful towards the homosexual community.  Dr. Mohler provides some helpful thoughts on how we as Christians ought to respond to Phelps’ passing and how we ought to think about the way Westboro participates in the public square.

The New Calvinism Movement by Matt Svoboda

Matt is an old college friend and brother pastor in Tennessee.  I enjoy Matt’s blogs and find them to be helpful and clear in thinking through different issues.  In this blog, Matt gives a short reason why he is proud and excited to be involved in the new Calvinism movement in the Southern Baptist Convention and in broader Evangelicalism.

Many non-Calvinist’s (and Calvinist’s too!) misunderstand what this movement is all about, and Matt provides some clarity into the issue.  I also found the links in this blog helpful as well, such as the link to Kevin DeYoung’s post about this same topic.

Conclusion

The more we read the more information we gather.  I pray that mere information gathering would not be the goal of my reading or the goal of your reading.  Rather, I pray that as I read, as I write, and as I provide other helpful resources to read that our goal would be gospel growth in holiness and evangelism.  Our goal ought to be that the information we gather so spurs us on to love God with our minds and that would lead us to loving God with our actions.

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