Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What would you say is the greatest need of the Church?

Good morning my friends. Have you ever noticed that it is difficult for anything to function properly if part of it does not work? Perhaps it is more obvious with some things than others. Cars are a great example. If part of the car decides to quit, let's say one of the tires, it doesn't matter how good the engine is, the car will not function at its full capacity. School is another example. You could have highly motivated teachers pouring themselves into their labour but if the students, one of the parts of the school, decide not to work, no learning is going to take place, and that is the function of the school. It works the other way around as well, with motivated students and unmotivated teachers. This is true for almost everything in life because everything is comprised of different parts, including the Church.

The Church represents God's presence in this world and has several functions but her greatest function is to be a witness for Jesus in a lost world that needs salvation. However, just like the car and the school, she requires all of her parts to be working together to function properly. The only difference there is between the other examples and the Church is that the Church is involved with things that will have eternal consequences. Unity in Jesus, by his love, is the Church's greatest need and Jesus' great desire. On the eve of his torturous death on the cross, unity was the subject of Jesus' prayer:

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:22-23)

You would think that seeing how important this is to Jesus that we would spend more time making it happen. Yet unity continues to be the biggest need and the greatest problem facing the Church. The reason is because we are too full of ourselves. If Jesus was truly our Lord and the salvation of the world truly our concern we wouldn't be wasting our time debating our brothers and sisters over braided hair. This is only one subject that some of us have chosen to argue over and with which to cause division. Paul warned Titus:

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:9-11)

I like Paul's wording, "unprofitable and useless". Unprofitable and useless to who? To our mission; to the world; to us; to our Father. It is like two small children fighting over one toy when the room is filled with toys. Such arguments come from a selfishness which comes from a sinful heart. Let's face it, selfishness goes against the nature of God so it is a sin if found in his children. People who love to argue are a people who like to divide. They are divisive in most things they do, it is part of their character. Paul says to warn them twice and then avoid them. Our problem is that we give them the spotlight by arguing with them. Understand we are talking about those who claim Jesus as Lord not the world.

Paul is not even diplomatic or kind about the matter. He states clearly for Titus to understand, divisive people are warped and sinful. We can argue with them until Jesus returns and it will not be productive or useful. Paul's solution is to ignore them as we would ignore a child throwing a tantrum. They are attention seekers so if we do not give them attention they will seek out another place that will. Now imagine if the whole Body dealt with these people as Paul instructed Titus to do. Soon they would run out of people to argue with. We can't do anything about the rest of the Body but we can take care of our part of it.

Unity is vital to our mission so we need to stop fighting over the one toy when the room is filled with them. Understand the sound doctrine that has been laid down for us and avoid disputable matters. Those things never profit anyone anyway and are usually based on preferences not doctrine. Let us concentrate on the task at hand by living the teaching on the unity of the Body:

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

Let us each pray that we will do our part in the Body in unison with the parts that we are connected with so that the Body can function in her purpose. Let us pray for the unity of believers and the wisdom to deal with divisive people. We have a mission to fulfill and we are running out of time.

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