Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Will Build My Church

Christ has said He will build His church (Matthew 16:18). But what does that mean? It means that Christ is at work in the lives of each of His people to accomplish His purposes (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 3:5,6; Colossians 1:28,29). It means that God has put His people together, giving each one a place and function to work together to build up the whole (1 Corinthians 12:11-27; Ephesians 4:11-16; Romans 12:3-5). Further, it is God's work to bring people to see their need of Christ and become part of His church (1 Corinthians  3:6,7; Acts 2:47; 13:48).

Now I do not in any way want to deny the obligation for us to be involved in building one another up (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Peter 4:10-11; Hebrews 10:24,25) or to proclaim God's truth to those who need to hear it (Romans 10:14,15; 1 Peter 3:15; Matthew 28:18-20). But the question I have to ask is, what are we trusting in to accomplish this? Are we trusting in God and His power (Psalms 127:1,2; Proverbs 3:5,6; Hebrews 11:27)? Or are we trusting in our planning and our programs and our abilities and our organization (Zechariah 4:6; Isaiah 31:1; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5)? There is a thin line here. I do not in any way want to discourage  industry or creativity or imagination in doing the work of God. But when we start relying on these to do God's work, it can produce a kind of desperation, where we see God's work as falling on our shoulders and the continuance of Christ's church as dependent on our efforts. This can cause people to go to greater and greater extremes, hoping to find the one right way to make God's work prosper. Also, when someone feels they have found the right way to make things work, it can produce pride (Proverbs 16:18) and promote division from those who advocate another solution (1 Corinthians 1:10-17).

One thing that makes this worse is the fact that western civilization in general seems to be turning away from Biblical truth. I am not sure this is entirely a bad thing, as I expect that much nominal Christianity of the past has been a superficial faith that results from simply conforming to the culture and has had little reality to it. But it is true that to maintain a Christian faith today requires a deeper commitment to go against the cultural flow. This also does not seem to me necessarily a bad thing. But good or bad, I do not see any quick fix to bring us back to where we used to be. Now I do not in any way want to oppose solid, responsible efforts to reach people for Christ and impact our culture with His truth. But we do need to trust that God is in control of our lives and the world (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11; Isaiah 43:13). And we need to put aside the panaceas that so often backfire and do not accomplish their purpose.

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