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Archive for May, 2016

In relationships to be serious is to be monogamous or dedicated. One cannot be serious about someone and at the same time seek to be with others in the same way. Faithfulness is equated with being serious, as I think it should be. In one’s art, career or sport, to be serious is to be disciplined and dedicated to the mastering of that thing, to being as successful as possible. Practice, honing of the craft and constant improvement are the lifestyle of one who is seen as serious.

There seems to be a discrepancy with how we view a seriousness of faith in our culture today. One who goes to church on Sundays is considered one serious about their faith. Praying, knowing Bible verses and even showing a passion for certain issues such as abortion, sexuality, poverty and others, are all indications that one is serious about their faith. There is however a great distinction between being serious about the Gospel and being serious about Spiritual discipline and some theological, cultural and social issues.

We live in the aftermath of the Enlightenment. One consequence of this is that many of us live our lives day by day unknowingly following the rules and principles that that movement has set for our Western world. We are children, in a sense, of the Enlightenment and therefore have inherited the good and the bad that worldview has produced. One of these rules states that religion is good only for one’s individual private spiritual practice. This rule made it possible for great minds like that of Ben Franklin, to confess a faith in God and yet act and behave politically and scientifically as one free of that faith. For the Enlightenment, God and his Law have no place in the public square, the classroom or the laboratory.

I believe this has had a great affect on our world, the world we have been born into and have grown up in. This world, where many of us have raised and are raising children, operates under the premise that God is not concerned with, or involved in it outside of one’s church walls or prayer closet. What we do in the world outside of our spiritual disciplines and church fellowship, doesn’t really matter much. We are waiting for God to fix this broken world, we are waiting to live in an eternity where our faith matters. It is the longing of every Christian to see the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells this same thing to Nicodemus in their secret meeting one evening in a garden, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”. We who have been awakened to the grace of God in Christ see the Kingdom, and we long for it. Every Sunday together we pray “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”. If this is your longing, your heart is in the right place. Unfortunately, as we long for the Kingdom, we have been told this Kingdom is not a present reality and cannot therefore be the hope and life of our world today. We are waiting.

To be serious about the Gospel is to believe that the Gospel informs, renews and has power in every aspect of life and society. If the Gospel we believe is true, then there cannot be anything in all of existence that it is not good news for, either in the condemnation and defeat of the wicked or in the redemption and renewal of the creation. If Christ is King, which is the good news of the Gospel, then he is King over all without exception.

Serious faith is not only a pious one. Morality, rules, passion for good causes and even a confidence in the forgiveness of sin and an afterlife with God are not the same as a serious faith. A serious faith is one that encompasses all of life and reality, it is a faith that leads one to live there today fully for the Kingdom of God.

Science, politics, art, education, justice and everything else are under his rule and wisdom. May we all begin to throw off the shackles of the Enlightenment and embrace a full and confident faith in Jesus who is the King of the nations and the Lord of all of life and society.

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“To arms! To arms! The Christians are attacking!” Prince Valiant (?)

“The Church is not the Church unless it is the Church militant”. R.C. Sproul

 

It is easy to understand that the Church is an institution ordained and formed by Christ to invade the realm of hell, extinguishing it from the earth. Our Lord himself says that the “gates of hell shall not prevail” against us. Paul concludes his letter to the Ephesians, after he has expressed the power and benefits of Christ given to all who have been delivered through his exodus from death and sin, with an appeal to put on the whole armor of God, Ephesians 6. The Church is indeed an army and all who are called by Christ have been commissioned into its service. The vocational callings of the Church such as pastors and teachers are ordained for the dedicated job of equipping the saints for the battle, the labor of the ministry, Ephesians 4. It is important to express that the battle we fight is not with guns and smart bombs, but with the power of the message that Jesus is the victorious King of the nations. In our fight we are ordered to “overcome evil with good”, and to “love our enemies”.

I have heard it said by many, I do not know by who originally, that the Church is the only army that shoots its own soldiers. This is a sad reality. I myself have seen this done. The Church is not only an institution called for battle, it is also a community formed for service and renewal. I would actually go so far as to suggest that the Church cannot succeed in the battle if it does not also fully embrace its calling to be a hospital, caring for the wounded and broken, regardless of who they are or how they got there. The same Apostle who calls us to gird our loins for the battle also calls us to be a people that gently and humbly restore our fallen brethren, Galatians 6.

The ability to fight the good fight, while caring for the wounded is a mark of maturity and wisdom according to the New testament. Jesus was a master of this. Dispelling evil and humiliating it, while restoring the woman caught in adultery so that she would “sin no more”.

So is the Church an Army or a hospital? According to Scripture it is both, and this is part of its practical strength. May we who are called to serve the Kingdom of God, fight the good fight as we serve and renew our world.

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