Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Healthy Assembly

What would be needful to create an assembly where the major focus would be on the people rather than the logistics that we find necessary to keep a group of people together? We are trying to do this.

If you feel compelled to weigh in on this have at it. Every comment will be added to the blog unless is obscene or abusive and I promise to be fair.

A. I.


Anonymous said...

I think that probably even the apostles had to confront this issue. Almost as soon as the church was established, some former Jewish Christians wanted to impose the tradition of circumcision on the new converts in order for them to become accepted into the church. As close as I can tell it, Jesus demanded service, love of God and fellow man and baptism, which was implied by his example and by the fact that nobody in the New Testament was added into the church without this action. Because men and women hold fast to their love of tradition, I think we will continue to hold fast to traditional expectations in the public worship setting. Frankly traditions give us roots and without them, I fear that we would not be successful as a church. The trick is not allowing our traditions to get in the way of Christian service and love of God and fellow man.

Anonymous said...

.......and my immediate answer may seem simplistic but I believe it would find good company among many whose scholarship and wisdom far exceed my own: The answer to this question is very similar to the answer I would offer if you posed an analogous question concerning the society formed by the Children of Israel in the Promised Land. Indeed, Israel even had many obvious advantages which America did not. (After all, God himself wrote Israel's founding documents and sent "patriots" [prophets] who spoke with absolute Divine authority, to cite just a few examples of those advantages.) Yet, in a matter of generations the society, civilization, and culture of Israel turned against God in shocking ways which are recorded for our instruction in the Scriptures.

Of course, in a sense I have begged the question because I still haven't addressed why the Children of Israel fleeing Egypt under God's leadership gave birth to a society, a civilization, and a culture that was completely opposite to what we read in the Bible was God's intention for his people. For that, countless commentaries have also done a much better job than I ever could but I like to emphasize the view of theologians such as Francis Schaeffer who point out what is probably an inevitable cycle: the pursuit of holy living obedient to the commands of God leads to frugality, strong work ethics, justice, fidelity and strong families, literacy and respect for education, the cultivation and advancement of productive skills and invention, and a society where the legal system and culture encourages honesty and discourages anarchy without diverting too much valuable resources to policing citizens and controlling evil, damaging behaviors. (Just take a look at the many African nations who can't maintain a complete electrical grid or telephone system because thieves pillage all copper wire within hours of its installation.)
These factors and the many other positive fruits which issue from them surely with the passage of time tend to bring about prosperity, good health, and progress. Unfortunately, such positive results also tend to lead fallen humans to become proud, overly-self-sufficient (in terms of no longer feeling a need for God's protection and help in dealing with famine, disease, and hardships), and soon their children and grandchildren are distracted by the materialism, gluttony, and excessive leisure time which earthly blessings can bring about. With each generation under such conditions there is usually a progressive process of turning from God. (After all, aren't prayers often more fervent during times of tribulation than in times of blessing? Most safe, healthy, and well fed people feel less need of sackcloth and ashes and hours of fervent prayer. Indeed, many are prone to say that they aren't even sure whether God even exists.
After all, they may have felt little reason to look for him.)

So personally, I see nothing surprising about our "Christian culture"
degenerating in many of the same ways as so many cultures which have preceded us. The cycles we see in the history of the Children of Israel are common to fallen humans who are exposed to the Grace of God and I can't think of any reason why we should expect equally fallen users of our time to be any different. As I mentioned, if God's own chosen people went through these patterns of rebellion, I see no reason why our Gentile society/civilization/culture should be any different. Of course, I suppose some will argue that the coming of the promised Messiah and the finished work of Christ on the cross along with the revelation of the New Testament represent an even greater outpouring of God's blessings and advantages and therefore might lead us to expect a better response from a people who have so many reasons to praise and thank God. But the completed work of sanctification remains yet future and meanwhile we live in a fallen world where Romans 1 is just as applicable as it was two millennia ago.

I'm answering my routine daily onslaught of ministry email so this quick jotting of ideas is hardly suitable for publication. (So I don't consider this email suitable for distribution in its present form, even on a blog.) But in the light of your thoughtful question, I wanted to provide some quick feedback concerning the issues which I too have pondered for many years. I doubt that we will see a major change in the direction of our society until we are again brought low and the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and the need of a Savior in every sphere of life. Thus, I agree with many of my colleagues who feel that persecution will be necessary before there is a purging of the lukewarm from our churches and that poverty, war, and hardships may be necessary before society in general looks to God with contrite hearts.

I'm also curious: Did any particular series of events, news, or personal experiences prompt your emailing of the question to the many of us? I'm sure you have already given the question much thought and I have made a note to myself to check your blog in a few days to see what appears in this collective consultation.

I trust you are well. Blessings on you.


Anonymous said...

If conversion means "to turn around" then are we being to simplistic to accept Christian belief is by the deed of baptism. The other extreme is to quote an 18th century evangelist. When asked how many were saved in that revival, he stated. "We will know in six months"

Playing church can lead to being the Church but they will know we are Christians by our love. God forgive us...

Susie Smith said...

My first thought in response to your question is this: In order to create an assembly where the major focus is on the people rather than the logistics, the people would need to value each other more than they value the logistics. Being kind, loving without condition and extending grace would have to be more important than being "right". And being right would need to dminish in importance overall. Perhaps this means that people would need to adopt the attitude of Christ who was more RIGHT than any of us and he chose to humble himself to the point of DEATH in order to preserve his relationship with us. How often do we humble ourselves AT ALL in order to preserve our relationship with each other?

Anonymous said...

Selinda says it is not ALL opposite of what we read in the Bible.

Anonymous said...

The focus of the Church of the Living God, should and must be centred on One Person alone, that is The Christ.