Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Widening MIndsets

It should not surprise the sincere Christian who is more interested in serving the Lord than in enjoying the world that the world is, well..., worldly.

Paul's admonition in Romans 12:2 is perhaps needed more now than ever:

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

Many in American society simply do not know God. The God they think they know is often not the God of the Bible; it is the God they prefer not the God that is. Warped views of grace, unrealistic and hypothetical theology, and imagined doctrines abound. I am reminded of the Paul's words to Colossae (that little town on the road to somewhere else):

"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ" (Col. 2:6-8).

The world loves to tell Christians all their faults and to suggest they have something better to offer. If we let the world re-invent our churches, we are sold out to the world. We cease being servants of Christ. If we determine that worldliness attracts more souls than righteousness, we will be a mirror of the world not of the Word.

Some think if we offer forgiveness without expectations of change (better known as repentance), that we can be a hospital for the hurting saints. It doesn't work. You can attract people but you can't change lives that way.

Imagine with me a man in a car accident with a very broken leg. The man is hurting and desires relief from his pain. Can you imagine telling the doctor to just give him some strong pain medication to relieve the pain but not worry about setting the leg? Let's kill the pain for now! But you know what's next. Pain medication wears off. Unless the bone is set back into place, there will be no relief.

Even more ridiculous is the approach some take to broken souls. Telling people of God's forgiveness might kill the guilt, yes. But if the soul doesn't repent of its sin, the brokenness will remain. Being free from guilt (from a human perspective) is not the same as forgiveness (from God's perspective). Many a person who thinks he/she is free from guilt is nevertheless still bound in sin. The unconditional grace some are preaching today is a fantasy, not a fix.

Because several have beat this drum loudly (grace without repentance), many have bought into it. Having itching ears, they have sold out of a myth. They believe their pain can be taken away without the needed changes.

The mindset of "anything will do" is far from the mindset of a loving and obedient servant. To speak of loving obedience today will lead to accusations of "legalist" and "Pharisee" from the religionist open to the world. Amazingly, he is willing to sanctify everyone but the one who is committed to serve God with obedient love.

One who says baptism is only the immersion of a person old enough to believe and repent (the Biblical view) is considered bound up in a "human tradition," while the "open" person who allows infant sprinkling (a concept never found in Scripture) is somehow untouched by human "tradition."

One who only sings in worship (because that is all the Bible teaches) is considered bound up by human "tradition," while those "open" to the modern practice of using instruments in Christian worship (a practice never approved by the New Testament or by the early church) are somehow untouched by human "tradition."

One wonders how people can add unscriptural practices and yet claim to be more Scriptural in such matters than those who reamin with the Scriptural practices. Being "open" to the innovations demanded by culture is not more Biblical than listening to the instructions of the New Testament--whether in baptism or in worship.

Those on the broad road likely made fun of those who took the narrow road. They likely deceived themselves into thinking they were smarter (because most everyone joined them) than those unfortunate people who took the strait and narrow path. Every day each walks down their roads, the distance between them gets further.

Some are splitting the church in order not to be "open" and "non-judgmental." They are so fearful of setting the bone and correcting the break, they would rather fellowship the world than correct the error.

Jeremiah understood the pain of preaching to people who did not want to listen. I fear those who preach the truth today may face the same pain of watching the world take away the people of God.



Anonymous said...

Question; Can you direct me to where it is said that we should direct others in worship?.
First what is worship? I see worshiping as presenting one's self humbled and obedient before the worshiped.
Phil:2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

I don't know if we can teach how to become humbled. does this not come from the heart. The bible tells us how to become a Christian, But does it tell us how to worship. Be an humbled obedient servant.

Phil Sanders said...

Dear L. E.,
In 1 Corinthians 14:16 says, "Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying?"

Common sense tells us that if one speaks, the others are listening. Prophets then and preachers now "direct" or "lead" us in thought when they speak. If one has a psalm (14:26), he must lead the others in the singing of it.

Someone has to lead the prayer, someone has to choose and direct the congregation in the singing of the songs. This is common sense.

Obviously, there is private worship, where each worships on his own. But when an assembled congregation (as in 1 Corinthians 14) worships, there must be decency and order--someone has to lead (14:40).

The phrase "humble yourselves" is an imperative, i.e., a command to be obeyed. Humility can be learned; and most children learn it early in life. They learn to sit quietly, to pay attention, to respect, and to be compliant. Humility is not self-abasement but rather not thinking of the self at all.

Humility is the lack of any arrogance and the willingness to give ourselves into the hands of others. Jesus in the garden demonstrates humility in prayer--not my will but Thine be done.

Humility is essential, but it is not all of worship. Praise, thanksgiving, adoration, reverence, love, faith, and utter dependence are also components of worship.

I see little reason to make this so complicated and hard, L. E. Worship is a mental, spiritual activity that demonstrates itself appropriately through the instructions of the New Testament. Out of love and faith we humbly and reverently give to God the love, praise, adoration, and thanksgiving due to Him as our creator and savior.

Love will teach how to do this along with God's instructions that teach us how to love and serve Him.

Thanks for your post,

Anonymous said...

Phil- You said humility and obedience are not all of worship, well I disagree you named other things that comprise worship, I say there things are just outward expressions of worship and would never happen unless we are humbled and obedient.

Phil Sanders said...

If you have something to say, say it.

Obviously there are people who go through the motions rather than worship. No one is doubting that.

But humility must express itself, and the Scriptures teach us how one is to do that. Humility is not enough; it must be demonstrated through those acts that the Lord instructs.

We can worship inappropriately. If we do the wrong things or have the wrong attitude, we are only deceiving ourselves about our worship to the Lord.

Thanks for your comments.