Things Are True
by Dan Coburn
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church
What did you expect? What are your expectations of the Church? Are they in contrast to what you believe are the Church's expectations of you?
After you come to a consensus with yourself, and resolve to do more than you think you ought to have to do, but somewhat less than what the pesky preacher seems to think you ought to give in the form of your time and your money --- and even your recreation and thought processes, are you at a place in your life where you have peace - or are you ever defensive and irritated? ---- Ugggg!
Let's turn the Spiritual Switch. As difficult as it is to suppress this paradigm, Let's bury it and ask the real question. What after all, does God require of me? We live in a world of "Lowered Expectations". In the interest of self esteem, we don't have any winners and losers any more. We lower the standards on tests, entrance exams and even moral fiber/character in celebrities like sports figures and even public officials in the highest offices.
There seems to be no dress code or standard on how much foul language is acceptable in public. We have a whole generation now that has (what the Bible calls) lost their ability to be ashamed. Any of you --- ask your parents how things have changed just in their lifetime. W/regard to Church, we think if we just go once a week, and drop something in the plate, that is our reasonable act of sacrifice. That's enough. We compartmentalize our Spirituality and say: "This much is God's, and the rest is mine", and we Church hop till we find an ear tickler to tell us that's enough. Warning. When the world sets your agenda or priority more so than God, your Church looses/forfeits it's right to glorify Him. "to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Eph. 3:21 We become guilty of what James talked about in James 4:4 - "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?" I'm not talking about spending time at a building, it's far more radical than that.
Nugget: Jesus Christ doesn't demand a place in your life, but First Place. "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have preeminence." Col. 1:18 This sounds like a high expectation to me.
There is however a danger when a person or Church adopts this radical mindset. We can suffer from a high-mindedness stemming from legalism. Paul was ever concerned that we didn't let this happen. It can ruin folks. We can be too judgmental; looking down our noses at those who Jesus died for. We can be hyper critical, and drive folks away who are earnestly seeking Jesus. And even if we don't say anything, we can scorch people with just a look. Paul said over and over - "not to think too highly of yourselves" or to temper our steadfast doctrine with "humility and love" lest "by the grace of God, there go I".
The other side of this though is to be so accepting that we are seen as condoning or even equipping sin. Can I share something from a pastor's heart? Wherever you attend, your Church has flawed leadership, and flawed members. In spite of this, God has chosen the venue of the local Church to accomplish His purposes. If "God hath placed the members in the body each one as it hath pleased Him", what should be our attitude? We should say: "I AM GOING TO PRAY DILIGENTLY, TALK TO THOSE IN LEADERSHIP (NOT FOR THE PURPOSE OF STEERING THEM TO MY AGENDA BUT) TO OFFER MYSELF AS AN ACTIVE WILLING PART OF THE SOLUTION. TO COVENANT TO TAKE THE HIT, AND EVEN REBUKE IN LOVE". To what end? That we may speak the truth in love and: "grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Eph. 4:15-16
Is Jesus the head of your life? Does He dominate your thought process? If not, He doesn't have the place He deserves and demands. God bless.