Sunday, December 09, 2007

Dissatisfied with Church?

Do you ever get dissatisfied with church? I'm not talking about the feelings of 'the church not meeting my needs.' That's inward looking. I'm talking about being dissatisfied with where you are at with God. You know there is more. You want to be more like him here and now. But how much time do we waste in learning how to know him more instead of being more like him?

Over the past 18 months I have studied many of the controversies of the church. From Montanism to modern word-faith preaching. Trinity to democracy. The sabbath, Calvinism, tongues, bible-only. It seems to me that man has an incredibly ingenious way of inventing new problems for himself. If there isn't an issue to argue over then we need to make one up to feel like we are achieving something.

Before I was married my leader in OM, Pradip Ayer, told me a wise truth: Major on the major issues and not the minor ones. It is a lesson that should be carried over to our Christian faith as well.

Ultimately we all belong to one family as we are all God's children.
Hebrews 2:11
Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.

However within that family there is room for expression.
Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

It makes me cry to think that there are people out there that think their part of the body, their spiritual family, their church or denomination, is the only true part of the body of Christ. Most of the controversies listed above have resulted in groups forming to condemn the other position and proclaim that their position is the only way. Their congregations then become an exclusive club convinced that only they hold the knowledge of truth and the penalty for leaving is leaving the assurance of salvation. I have seen this across the board in Brethern, Baptist, pentecostal, Anglican, third-wave, whatever. This insidious legalism based on the philosophies of man doesn't care for denominational labels - rather they are the underpinning of its lies.

God has made us one family, one body. Within that we will find those who have similar expressions of what it means to be part of the family - we cal these gatherings church. However our particular grouping should never become exclusive to the exclusion of other parts of the body.

We should never attempt to be the Holy Spirit in other peoples lives.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Abdicating Responsibility

I met with a group of pastors recently and discussed the implications of having a new government with a distinctly anti-discrimination agenda. This is what they have termed their Social Inclusion Agenda. For example, the new Minister for Climate Change, Penny Wong, is Australia's first openly gay minister as well as Australia's first Asian born minister. Part of this agenda is to present homosexuality as a natural alternative to be taught in sex-ed classes in all schools across the country.

I don't want to get bogged down in the issues of homosexuality. What I do want to focus on is a comment made by one of the pastors.

"Parents have handed to the schools their responsibility to teach their children morals and virtues. We hand over the children and we hand over the school fee's and say teach my children to grow up."

The question must be: Who is teaching your children what is right and what is wrong?
  • The teacher who lost their virginity aged 14 is not going to teach the need to keep yourself pure for your future spouse, because it condemns them.
  • The teacher who aborted a foetus so they could remain at work is not going to teach the right to life.
  • The teacher living in a de facto relationship is not going to teach about the sanctity of marriage.
As Christian parents we have the responsibility to model for our children and teach them what the Bible says, so they may learn to discern good from evil, right from wrong.

Another pastor told how his 13 year old daughter had come home telling how a girl in her class with an older boyfriend had been given condoms as a birthday present by her mother. If our children are not getting moral guidance from us then they will get it from others they trust - their friends and their teachers.

This abdication of responsibility is seen across society and is reflected in both government and Christian schools. The issue is not whether the government is attempting to legislate a particular morality but whether we as parents are actively teaching our children what God says is right and wrong. Not human rights but God's rights.

If we understand what Luther said when he described the two kingdoms - the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world - then we will have no choice but to accept responsibility for the moral upbringing of our children. We cannot ask those in the kingdom of the world to teach what is in the kingdom of God. We are in the kingdom of God let us therefore let us teach what we know is right. Let the world teach of the world and let us teach of God's ways.

Let me close with another quote from the pastor I started with.

"The gospel is offensive because it is absolute. Jesus said I am the way. Homosexuality is seen as a way but the message we share is the way. That is why it is so offensive to people."