Search This Blog

Thursday, 25 October 2018

The Church is (very) different from the World

Image result for worldliness
"Worldliness" is an old-fashioned word, but a Biblical and healthy one. Worldliness can be simply loving the present world.  The apostle John says "love not the world, neither the things in the world" (1 John 2:15). Demas went astray because he "loved this present world." 

But worldliness can also be the way Christian churches "ape the world" in the way they go about their business.

Here are four ways we can "do church" in a worldly way.....

(1) We can be worldly in the way we choose leaders
It is tempting for churches to choose their leaders because they are rich, educated or influential in the eyes of the world. Jesus deliberately chose Twelve Zeros as his disciples - despised fishermen, dodgy tax collectors, zealots and the like: and these men turned the world upside down. When the apostles were looking for men who could administrate gifts to poor widows, they passed by the good folks with degrees in administration and chose men filled with faith, the Holy Spirit and wisdom (Acts 6). When elders are to be appointed by Titus, nothing is said of their wealth, education or worldy success - those things matter not one jot in the Kingdom of Christ. Godliness is everything (Titus 1).

(2) We can be worldly in the way we run our church finances
A worldly church will only step out into some new venture, if there are sufficient funds - and more than sufficient -  in the bank. God may be calling a church to great steps of faith, but they shrink back if it means spending more money than they now have. No missionary work would ever have been accomplished in the history of the world on that basis: missionaries are in the constant business of stepping out without any human resources and depending instead on God alone - the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills.

Influenced by the "insure everything that moves" culture we live in, we are prepared to take no personal or collective risks of faith. 

(3) We can be worldly in the way we run our church meetings
"Going Through the Chair!"
In my past, I have been to one too many "church" meeting that was run just like secular business meetings or share-holders meetings. Hardly a prayer or Scripture, just loud voices, vying for attention, trying to influence, deliberately sowing seeds of strife and division. And while the wannabees vie for control, the precious humble true sheep are stumbled. There is simply no comparison between the spiritually minded, prayerful, united, Gospel-centred, rejoicing, meetings we find in the New Testament book of Acts (Chapter 15 for example) and the business meetings of the world with all their worldly names ("Annual General Business Meeting") and daft procedures ("going through the chair!").

(4) We can be worldly in the way we train
The church is encouraged to equip God's people for works of service (Ephesians 4). How do we do this? We ape the world and institutionalise people in "Bible Colleges." This teaching environment, poached from the academy, is contrary to the Scriptures. The only proper Biblical method of  training is to take someone with potential on an apprenticeship-style journey, and allow them to learn and work alongside someone who has done evangelism/preaching/teaching/pastoring before. The Jesus and Paul method is the right method - and it is always in the immediate setting of a local church - not the impersonal environment and atmosphere of a distant college. 

In these and in many other ways, worldliness seeps into the church, ties the hands of godly workers and grieves and hinders the work of the Holy Spirit.

We need constantly to be reviewing the way we "do church" and led by the Spirit and the Word we must constantly throw out first worldly thinking and then throw out worldly procedures.

No comments:

Post a Comment