Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Growing Arrogance Of The Church

Have you noticed the arrogance that has been creeping into the Church? Maybe it is just in my part of the world but it seems that people have mistaken arrogance for boldness. Arrogance is whenever we consider ourselves more important than others, push for our rights above anyone else's, treat people with disdain and disrespect. It is the opposite character of where we should be in Christ. Arrogance allows us to dismiss people as our enemy just because they do not agree with us, cutting them off completely from us. We end up with a small list of people we consider acceptable as friends. It certainly is not the example Jesus taught us.

Arrogance prevents us from carrying out the mission we have been given and needs to be de-rooted as soon as we recognize it. We must be an open people, showing love to our friends and enemies alike. One of the ways to do this is to watch our tongue and to renew ourselves in worship. Remember the instruction Jesus gave about worship?

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24)

Paul gives even more detail concerning our attitude in worship and it really reveals whether we are worshiping in a religious context or according to the Spirit of God:

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

In such an easy-to-read statement Paul gives us the context of everything we do. Our motivation for breathing, working, being, is this one desire of God our Saviour: that everyone would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Knowing this there is no way that we can come before Jesus in worship while being out of sorts with other people. It's not just about us and Jesus; it's about us and Jesus, us and others, others and Jesus.

There are so many things that Jesus taught that demonstrate to us that he wants us to set ourselves aside in order for people to discover him. We need to be able to surrender to Jesus our hurts, offences, trampled upon rights and whatever else people have done to us, and forgive them so we can minister to them. When we live peaceful and quiet lives we are able to minister to everyone. We are to live in godliness and holiness which takes on a more powerful meaning when we understand how it plays out in action and attitude:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48)

What is the definition of this perfection? To love your enemy just as God did for us. We were enemies of God when Jesus died on that cross in order to save us from the destruction of God's judgment. It is in remembering this that we are then able to die to ourselves, our rights for justice, our need for vengeance, and seek the salvation of everyone. Paul said this is the only proper attitude of worship.

If you don't think this is a problem for you then consider your attitude toward the young mom who was just acquitted of her child's death. I have read a lot of judgment and hatred aimed at her from Christians. Guilty or innocent, our only responsibility is to reach out with the love of Christ. We do not seek after a system of justice as the world does but we desire the grace of Jesus Christ to cover everyone. It is the desire of God our Saviour (let's emphasize that name) that everyone would be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. The easiest thing in the world is to hate and to seek revenge in the name of justice but that is not pleasing to God. If we can't understand this then we have missed the point entirely.

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