It continues to amaze me. What? – you may be wondering. Just bare with me as I get there. I assure you, we will get there. But in order to set up this discussion appropriately and with some degree of context, let me start with this: It is amazing how much junk, yes junk, falls under the umbrella of Christian material and literature. Oh yes – there is much that is helpful, practical, and edifying, but there is much that is “passed off” as Christian by nature that is nothing more than self-help, self-discovery, self-improvement, and self-motivated. When you couple in all of the other subject matters and areas of study, it multiples quite rapidly.
One category that I have received much on, as of late, pertains to the Church, the Community of Faith, the Body of Christ. The subject discourse includes everything from How to be more Effective to What Ministries Work Best Today; from How to Conduct Transformational Worship to Bringing a New Spirit of Koinonia to the Body. That only scrapes the surface – there is way too much to list here. Sure, there is good stuff and great stuff. I am not a negative “generalizer” and I am quick to say that there are several resources that are top notch.
In previous blog entries and in face-to-face teaching and fellowship opportunities, I have shared that since becoming a pastor, I have received more books, resources, newsletters, e-zines, reviews, questionnaires, and pre-market test materials than ever before. Since 2009, the volume has increased substantially – to the point where if it stopped today, it would take me a year to sift through and read what I have. Good? Bad? Indifferent? All the above? I share your sentiments. But one thing I will say, quite boldly as a matter of fact, is how disgusted and upset I get with the resources (and people who write/publish them) that seem to continually mock, ridicule, blast, and undermine God’s chosen vessel in the world: His Church. It seems that this trend is on the increase as of late, both inside and outside the Church. I am sure we can expect it to continue and to progressively get more intense as the battle for souls rages on.
The resources and the movements in each of these categories: traditional, emergent, house, evangelical, organic, mainline denomination, revolutionary, non-denominational, etc., celebrate its uniqueness while realizing how it differentiates. Sure, there are “non negotiables” that we stand by doctrinally. It would be ridiculous to think or suggest we would ever waiver on what we hold dear, and know. But I have heard and read attacks, claims, generalizations, and marginalizations from every angle and going in every direction – including personal and deliberate ones. To list some of the talking points here would exhaust the rest of my time and energy. And even then we would only tackle a mere fraction of the total. Instead, let us acknowledge just a few things that are imperative across all authentic, Bible-believing, full Gospel preaching & teaching Church bodies. Note: not all inclusive.
- Jesus Christ is Lord. He is our Source. He is “the way, the truth, and the life” and there is no way to God but through Him.
- That no matter what, we have been created for God’s purpose and pleasure. And part of this purpose and pleasure involves a personal, intimate relationship with God; and personal, Christlike relationships with others in His body.
- Don’t believe everything you hear and read. Study it. Examine it. Ask questions and engage. Verify its scriptural truth and validity. We are encouraged to do this in the NT as we “come into the knowledge of God.”
- No one type of church is, or ever will be, perfect. Whereas it is stated that some “mainline denominations seem to have a disconnect with culture and have promoted programs over people” it is also stated that several “organic and house churches have people who struggle with organization and commitment even though organization and specific duties are clearly taught and demonstrated throughout the NT and apostolic church.”
- While we certainly have distinctions; we can never see them as divisions so that they create barriers and cut off our work in the world.
- God calls us to a life of holiness. Not a legalistic, rigid, self-derived lifestyle. A holiness that only God can give and empower: a change of heart, mind, attitude, and action. Read Romans 12:1-2.
I could go on. I am just ready to link with “Christlike and Holy Spirit filled” people who are ready to reach this lost and fallen world for Jesus. Time is ticking… “the harvest is finished, the summer is gone, yet, the people cry, we are still not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20). That is what breaks my heart and tells me to go, to be, to share, to love. Souls are perishing all around.
Finally, let me give you something as I wrap this up. Never deny how the ministries function within the Body of Christ, and never reject the servants of God on a universal level. Ministries are gifts to the Church as “God has appointed” (1 Cor. 12; Ephesians 4). A tremendous price will be paid by denying and rejecting those who God calls, sends, and anoints. That can be at, and in, a multitude of capacities within His Church. Instead of the generalizing and condemning, let us rejoice that our great God and Savior is at work in us, by us, and through us. May we lift Him up, may we decrease, that He may draw all men to Himself. In the words of the philosopher: “We can do it!” I only add, “with His strength and power!”
Blessings and many thanks for your patience in reading this much. In prayer and fasting,