A Pastoral note on church

In the busyness of life, so much comes before our faith.  As we look at our lives and what lies ahead, there is one thing we can depend on.  The one thing that is universally true, has been, is and always will be true.  The thing you can depend on is this: “If we have died with Him we shall also live with Him; if we hold out to the end we shall also reign with Him" (2 Tm 2:11-12). 

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Since this is true, instead of seeing our faith and church as something we have to do, or something that we only do when it is convenient, we should rejoice that the Lord has chosen us to be members of His Body. His invincible, persecuted Church. We are called to love the Church as Christ did.  Remember Paul’s words to the Ephesians as to how much Jesus loved the church, “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25)

What is this thing called church and why is it so important to be a part of it? The church exists when we gather.  Without the gathering, there is no church.  Down through the centuries the gathering of God’s people took place, and it was fed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  We are only part of the church when we are part of the ongoing and recurring gathering.  In between the gathering of the church we are scattered into society as salt and light.  The gathering and scattering goes on continually, like breathing in and breathing out.  When it stops, the church stops breathing and dies.  The church is therefore a living, functioning and moving organism of God's people.

We are not called to just attend the gathering and be a consumer, we are called to be contributors. Jesus is coming back for His church; how will you feel when He does?  The writer of Hebrews encourages us in the context of the gathering to joyfully and humbly, “Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?” (Heb 13:17 MSG) Did you care for His church?  Did you participate in His church?  Did you contribute in his church? Did you love His Church?  Did you serve His church?  Did you invite as many people as possible to give themselves to Jesus and enter His Church?

In a nutshell, did you take your part in the Church and in doing so, build the Church. 

The reality is that there is a growing Christian consumerism and individualism which tends to isolate us in our search for peace, purpose and well-being apart from one another. So much comes before His purposes for our lives.  Pope Francis brings wisdom in terms of what a church community should be when he says, "A community that cherishes the little details of love, whose members care for one another and create an open and evangelizing environment, is a place where the risen Lord is present" Yes! That's the foundation of what church should be.

This insight by Ray Ortland sums up this pastoral letter well – “If your relationship with your church is ambiguous and sporadic and subject to convenience, the problem is not your relationship with your church. The problem is your relationship with Christ. He has made his loyalty clear. He even delights in his church. He is committed to the revival of the world through the revival of the church. To God, the most important thing in all of created reality is his church, a crown of beauty in his hand. Your own greatest happiness is the revival of your church.”

We are called to live holy lives for Jesus and on our path to holiness we can identify all the more with Jesus’ prayer “that all may be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you” (Jn 17:21).

I leave you with the writer of the book of Hebrews words, “Pray for us. We have no doubts about what we're doing or why, but it's hard going, and we need your prayers. All we care about is living well before God.” (Heb 13:18) 

 

 



 

Our search for utopia

The world is going a little crazy wouldn’t you say? The political correctness is going so far that if its right for me, then its right and you cannot say otherwise because you will be infringing on my freedom to choose. We are living in an increasingly relative world.Jim Manny said it this way, “When our personal fulfilment becomes of paramount consideration, we are adrift in a sea of relativism”

The simplest way to explain relativism is to say, “Different strokes for different folks”. It’s the idea that what’s good or bad, right or wrong, or true or false, can be different for different people. Basically, there are no absolute rights and wrongs, only different situations.

Here are a few I have encountered:

I was in meetings with government and they are proposing to legislate that anyone can get married. Transgender people, same sex people, even customary marriage is in the proposal. In customary marriage, it is legal to have multiple wives. I’m not sure why they are not proposing that a woman can have multiple husbands? The proposed legislation would force all pastors who are marriage officers to perform these ‘weddings’ whether it is against their beliefs or not.

Government is proposing the hate speech bill, so if you tell someone they will go to hell for not believing in Jesus it will carry a fine and a possible jail sentence for infringing on their rights. If a pastor says in church that prostitution is wrong, it carries up to a three-year jail sentence for the first offence and up to a ten-year jail sentence for the second. Why, because prostitution is recognized as a way to make a living and you cannot infringe on that person’s rights.

Dr Ruth’s proposal to government in education, which I am grateful to say has been stopped, was that Grade 4 learners should be taught that masturbation is good, intercourse is their right and just a way to make yourself feel good.

I read recently that in liberal circles there are now twenty-eight recognized sexual orientations. That Canada had legalized bestiality and that peado-attraction is being considered in their legislation.

Transgender laws for bathrooms are being passed. If you are saying, “that is ok”, what about the following scenario? Your young daughter goes in to a public bathroom and there was a twenty-year-old guy who happens to identify as a transgender women in there with her?

Gay couples are suing bakers, not for refusing to bake them a cake, any cake would have been baked, but they are being sued for refusing to bake them a wedding cake with two men on the top.

A teacher was recently fired from a top school in the UK for referring to two, 12 year old girls this way when they had performed their task well – “Well done girls” One of the girls parents said she identified as a boy and were offended at his labeling her and the teacher was fired.

Feminist marches, the war of the sexes which has caused a confusion of sexuality and role models. Now feminism has done much for women’s rights, but there is also the unhealthy side of feminism. God created us different, why not celebrate those differences and bring our strengths together? Instead we are told we must all be exactly the same, a kind of gender-less society.

Pluralism is becoming a reality, which is basically the believe that all roads lead to god. All roads lead to utopia. Islam, Buddhism, Baha’i, Hinduism, Taoism, New Age… It just your preference, do what you want and ultimately you will get to god and utopia. My question is which god and which utopia?

All this is relativism - “Different strokes for different folks”, there are no absolute rights and wrongs, only different situations.

We live in a world where relativism is embraced.

However, increasingly Christians are viewed as a problem for sharing their beliefs with others…?? Really? The fact is that Christianity is the most persecuted and has the most martyrs of any religion in the world.

Friends, neutrality is a myth. When you stand for a belief you are standing against other beliefs. Jesus said it this way, "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. (NIV) - "This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you're not on my side, you're the enemy; if you're not helping, you're making things worse. (MSG) Matthew 12:30

In other words, there is no fence sitting. Either you are for Jesus or against Him! Either you draw people toward Him or you draw people away from Him. John Wesley put it this way, “For there are no neuters in this war. Everyone must be either with Christ or against him; either a loyal subject or a rebel. And there are none upon earth, who neither promote nor obstruct his kingdom. For he that does not gather souls to God, scatters them from him”

The reality is that relativism and political correctness is the silver bullet to the gospel. When we say, “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father part from Him”; we may not be popular, we may not be politically correct and we may face rejection and persecution. But as Jesus Himself said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”

Think about it.

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