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Monday, August 20, 2007

...Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Galatians 5 is often referred to when doing Cautionary Lessons against the gross activities of bodily lust, but the list of "deeds of the flesh" contains a majority of non-squishy activities and attitudes:

...idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying...

It's really interesting to look at those, and compare them to the Whole State of Christ's Church today. Jesus' prayer that we may be one is at variance with that list. I have a pet peeve, and that is cool, distinctive names of churches. The Crossroads, Crosspointe Church, The Church of No Color (honest...there really is one), New Life Family Worship Center. Second to that is preacherly "gimmicks": "My preacher wears camo and preaches on spiritual warfare...". These things serve to make that particular group different from the others, as well as making the message distinct from the others.

This distinction militates against the unity Jesus prayed for. The purpose of God for the church is that we make disciples of the nations, as part of His redemptive plan for the world: one mission, one message, one purpose, one plan.This bespeaks of Unity in the church.There is no hint of "look at ME...look at MY MINISTRY...look at MY METHOD...we're DIFFERENT from Those Other Churches.".The imagery in the New Testament is of the Body of Christ, the collectivity of brothers and sisters in Christ, each having "a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let(ting) all things be done for edification.", striding through the earth with redemption on every side, unified, authoritative in the Word, by the Spirit, redemptive and reconciling.

Sadly, the image the world has of the church is of a Frankenstein's monster of mismatched and disunified parts, shambling across the world scene, shedding rejected bits across the landscape, making incoherent and disjointed noises this way and that, blown from here to there by the blows it suffers from the world, and reacting to the things it sees in the world.

A local church (Athens, AL) recently made the national news by initiating a Temperance Drive in an attempt to get the sale of alcohol repealed.Try as I might, I cannot see a single instance in the New Testament where Jesus, Paul, Peter, James or John initiated a march, drive, petition, or mass pout to stop people from doing something that offended. Take slavery, f'rinstance. Paul did not start a campaign to stop the Offending Practice. Brights and other annoying persons find this terrible, for clearly it meant that Paul Did Not Care, that God Did Not Care, and thus ANY modern atheist is morally superior to either if he opposes slavery. (Perhaps they should stage Abolitionist Marches in Sudan.) The fact is, Paul recognised that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (rescue, deliverance from bondage), and was thus sufficient to quell the deed, which indeed it began to do, as believing slave owners learned the difficulty of calling Property whom he also called Brother. Long and short: you teach the Word. Do something silly like. oh...do it like Jesus said. Make disciples of the nations. That means show them, teach them HOW to live the Kingdom life. This takes years, like it took years for Jesus to teach His disciples. Saying a prayer and sitting in a pew doesn't cut it. Baptise them by the authority of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. You are promised to receive the Holy Spirit, God Himself residing in your person.This is for starters.

Back to the point.If everyone does JUST what the Word says, it will result in unity. If, however, I insist on MY neat name, MY cool new way to do the gospel, thinking MY way is THE way, then I make myself distinct from my brothers and sisters. I become the enemy of unity.I become factious, jealous of other "ministries", become angry when you don't agree with MY way.

The world will not hear us unless we are unified. They will not believe our message unless we love. They will not believe in forgiveness in Christ if the church puts on its judge's robe.Wait...it HAS no such robe, 'cos it's NOT OUR JOB.

Yes. I yelled.

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