Friday, July 30, 2010

It Is A Beautiful Design

We have all received them; those wonderful, emotional stories written to play on your heart strings. Or perhaps they were the informative version; telling us of some great impending disaster on the Internet or elsewhere. Some are referred to as Urban Legends, passed on by naive people who do not take the time to check into the facts for themselves. We sometimes fall prey to these false stories because there is something about them that makes us want to believe them. It seems the vast majority of people no longer want to think for themselves and simply go along with the popular biased thinking.

It goes beyond just the emails and social networking circles and takes in a great deal of the news media as well. Many people have this notion that if it is on the news then it is the truth. We fail to recognize that we are seeing the news through that one reporter's eyes and any biases that they may have. We would like to think it is balanced reporting but we all know that any story depends on the story teller's perspective. An example is found on the CBC web site this morning. There is a story of someone using a Defense Department computer to alter a Wikipedia entry concerning the new fighters that are being purchased. In the article the opposition leaders are interviewed and they try to paint the picture that it is a plot from the Prime Minister to influence Canadians. It is a ridiculous notion but yet they have now planted the idea in people's minds, as can be seen by the silly comments being left by people. Few people take the time to consider the simple explanation that a computer geek in the Defense Department, with no connection to the PM, was bored and messing around on Wikipedia without realizing that it could be traced back to them? Read it for yourself and you decide: "DND computers used to change Wikipedia Site".

This is the thing: we have stopped thinking for ourselves and are now primed to fall victim to all kinds of wrong ideas, notions and teachings. We have a mob mentality, where we lose our ability to reason and respond to reason and instead we go along with what the majority of people are saying and doing. Now don't you dare think that our culture is not influencing the Church in North America. Because we are so caught up in our culture, television, music, popular thinking and ideas, we bring it into the Church. We are the Church, so if we are being influenced so is the Church. Instead of being counter-culture and standing our ground against sin and the advances of the enemy, we embrace them and make a feeble attempt to adapt them for use in the Kingdom. But what is worse is that we bring with us the same mob mentality; we go with the thinking and actions of the majority, even when they are wrong.

It is sad and frightening to see so many people accepting whatever they are given as the truth. We are intelligent people and we have been given so many tools of information in this age. Never before have we been so well equipped to find out the truth for ourselves and yet we allow ourselves to become lazy or distracted by the insignificant things in life. We have become too reliant on books and other people's opinions on the Word. I have nothing against these fantastic resources and much of the great teaching we can find on the Internet but, as a pastor, I become frightened when I discover that people are no longer studying the Word of God and have replaced it by books, teaching DVDs and YouTube videos. We are setting ourselves up for a great deception.

What is worse is when people start following one teacher, preacher, pastor exclusively. The Church was never designed in this way. No one person can provide what the Body of Christ has to provide us with. This is the beauty of 1 Corinthians 12 and what is described in Ephesians 4:

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) 

It is always important to address things of the Body in the context of unity. Now look at the beautiful design of the Father:

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)

Do you see the team of people he put in place for our training? It is not one person calling all the shots but a team of people called to unique positions because each offers something that we need for our training. It is a far different vision than our current routine of showing up on Sunday and hearing the pastor preaching. There is danger to be tied so closely to one person because it means that we are missing out on all the other parts of our training. Paul had to deal with this notion with the Corinthians who were losing their unity over the matter:

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. (1 Corinthians 3:1-9)

When we are trained by a team of these ministers there is a safeguard against an unbalanced view or of being led astray by one teacher who has gone astray themselves. Paul says that when we are trained by such a team and walk in that training, we will become mature and grow into the full knowledge of Jesus. There is a very good benefit that arises from this kind of training:

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:14-16)

I wish that these trainers could also grasp the reality of the Body of Christ and stop being so territorial about the children of God. The trainers should be beyond petty jealousies and realize the great privilege we have in being called as trainers together. Unfortunately it often looks like children trying to train children and we end up with a great deal of immaturity in the Body of Christ. The Word tells us that the Spirit is our teacher so we need to start discovering truths for ourselves under his guidance. The others he surrounds us with are our trainers in this truth but they do not replace our responsibility to learn for ourselves the Word of God. Let us at least get on the same page when it comes to the idea that our Father does not want us to be tricked into leaving the family and instead wants us to grow up into maturity. Let us do that with the Word of God as our solid foundation and with the host of trainers he has provided to stand by our side as we guard our mind against the schemes of the enemy. It is a beautiful design. If only we would embrace it.

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