Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Finding Churches

If one reads the NT carefully you will find that the NT churches are much like churches today. They are filled with people...people who like us... are not complete. The disciples of the NT were unfinished. They were people in progress involved in a dynamic relationship with Jesus as Lord. As you read the Epistles you find churches dealing with the sins of her members, congregations suffering from periods of discontent and churches dealing with doctrinal questions.
Every one of the NT books have one continuing theme - keep your eye on Jesus. The inspired authors of these books, guided by God's Spirit, sought to return the focus of the members back to the Lord. If we stay focused on people, their view points and their weaknesses we will be easily discouraged. People have "all sinned" (Rom. 3:23) and if anyone claims to have no sin they are a liar (1 John 1:8,10). So the writers of the Epistles just kept tuning us back the the Lord, the Father and the Spirit.
Looking for a church without stain is like looking for a person without sin and will finally push a person to church after church bent on a path of ultimate discouragement. Keeping our eyes on the Lord and remembering we are not perfect either is the best course. Obviously we all have to keep trying, communicating...letting iron sharpen iron...so that we will grow and become more like Christ. What if Christ gave up on us? Give the church a little grace, after all Christ has given us that......hasn't he? Foree

8 comments:

daddyO and honey said...

amen to this message. we were sorry to have missed you and dana this weekend. we were encouraged greatly by so many and have much to thank God for as we continue to enjoy the love of the A&M church of Christ. we miss you!!
PS. justin will give his first sermon in spanish on prayer for the Fairland c of C, Shelbyville, TN, their supporting congregation when they fly in the end of this week.

Christopher said...

Paul's message in his letters to the churches was one largely of correction.

To paraphrase: "Love each other, remember what Christ did for you, AND correct your errors".

He never said, "Love each other, remember what Christ did for you, and just ignore the error so you don't rock the boat."

Christ's message to most of the seven churches in Asia was "correct your errors or else, because I'm coming back."

Where is the congregation in Corinth today? What happened to the congregation in Ephesus? What happened to all the congregations in Asia? Have you ever wondered why they are gone?

I try to make myself better every day instead of throwing up my hands and saying "well no one is perfect!". I want to be corrected because I am interested in being pleasing to God.

We definitely should realize that no person nor congregation is flawless. True and correct. But within their flawed congregaions (Rev 3:1-5), members should humbly correct those who are in error AND humbly accept correction from their brethren for their own errors.

If a flawed congregation does not humbly accept correction from loving brethren, then those brethen certainly must seek out a new congregation, because the arrogant congregation will eventually go the way of those in Corith, Ephesus, Sardis, Lystra, and the others.

Loving the Lord also meetings hating error and striving to remove it from your life.

Foree said...

To Christopher: I think, if you re-read the comments I said "we have to keep trying" - "iron sharpens iron"...you seem to have missed that ...keep our eye on Jesus...I reread my thoughts and did not find the comment "throw up your hands.." maybe you read that into my message...I did not find "don't correct your errors" I did not find "no one is perfect so quit trying" funny you found all of that in there when none of it was said...the article was about patience and forbearance with one another..I am sorry if I left a wrong impression but I did not say the things you got out of the note - you must have read your own thoughts into it...

Foree said...

Daddyo - sorry i missed you two - we were supposed to play golf but God sent a blessing instead ...I know we will cross paths st other times...Foree

Christopher said...

Foree, I am biased, I fully admit. Please overlook the biases you perceive that I have. Two biased (and flawed) people can have a discussion. Perhaps your ignoring my comments and pointing out my flaws shows the bias you carry?

Patience and forbearance. I totally agree. Christ is our supreme example of patience and forbearance. Our patient, forbearing, loving God also gives warnings, for example:

Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

You touch on a similar theme in another recent post.

May I ask a question? Under what circumstances do you believe a person would be warranted in leaving a congregation and by extension, under what circumstances do you believe division would be warranted, if ever?

Foree said...

My first response to you was based on the observation that you assumed, I suppose, that I had no place in my view for keeping on and trying etc..sorry if I over reacted...On division - Jesus via Paul calls us to be united based upon the one into whose name we were immersed and the one who was crucified for us (1 Cor.1:10ff). So if we stay close to Christ we would speak the same thing and be of the same mind. So division is basically prohibited. Romans 16 says we are to mark those who cause divisions so there division is prohibited.
Ephesians 2:14ff teaches that hostility and separation is gone in Christ who "himself" is our peace. This unity created by Jesus is to be kept by us (Ephesians 4:1ff) through humble and forbearing hearts....The only biblical reason I know of for division is the rejection of Jesus as Lord. If one is in Christ then unity exists due to brotherhood founded in HIM. So differences are studied, argued, as "iron sharpens iron" but division should never happen. Jesus himself set the standard in Matthew 10 when he said he came to being division but in this context it is about Jesus himself - we must always honor his Lordship, Diety and sovereign place in God's will as the "anointed one"...God only brought one Lord and one faith and one immersion and hope so there is no reason to divide...Christopher I know of no reason brothers in Christ should ever divide unless it is over a rejection of Jesus himself.

Foree said...

About leaving a church...I think moving from one church to another for some reason related to personal happiness or preference is a whole other issue. The sad reality is that more often than not different congregations hardly acknowledge one another, talk and write about each other, withdraw fellowship from one another and often when people leave one church for another leave with some problem about practice etc..and more often than not feel one church is superior or more "sound" due to some aspect of teaching they embrace...so, if I were to move to another church for some personal reason or even a matter of faith that is one thing but if the move means that I am "in" and "they" are "out" even though they are immersed believers in Jesus then I think there is a problem. If I leave and seek to divide then I am wrong if I am right.Trying to divide a church is wrong unless it is about the Lordship of Jesus.

Christopher said...

Foree,

Thanks for your answer.