Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Strength of sin...

In an earlier post, I mentioned 1 Corinthians 15:56b which reads,"the strength of sin is the law." The culmination of this has always been depicted, in my mind, by a local ministry I encountered when I was living in Florida.

Although I had several years of Bible college under my belt, I was still a baby Christian in some ways because of the religious baggage I was still getting rid of, enroute to true spirituality & Biblical understanding. I had moved to Miami as part of a missionary adjunct ministry that was aided & used by a number of other ministries. One of these was the one I alluded to in the first paragraph. And, fortunately for both the innocent and the guilty, the names of both the ministry & the people I met in it (as well as it's location) have gone from my memory. A picture of the locale, as well as the pastor are forever ingrained in my mind. As well as the spiritual lessons clarified & learned there.

When we arrived at the headquarters, it turned out to be in an office complex that had better security than some government buildings I've been in, which gave me pause. Upon entering, we met the Pastor & some of the staff. We got a tour of his part of the complex. And, while some of our group got a more detailed tour, I got to spend some time talking to the pastor's secretary. Within minutes, I knew she thought he was the greatest thing on the face of the planet since the invention of sliced bread. That, too, made me uncomfortable. I've always had a tendency that, if someone or something got an exorbitant amount of compliments, I'd start looking for what was wrong with the person or thing. Even if I greatly trusted the person giving the compliments, I took the compliments with a grain of salt -- still do. And, so far, this visit brought up nothing but mental & spiritual red flags.

Shortly after that, while some of the others got to discuss with some of the staff the possibilities of co-laboring, I got to spend some time with the pastor in his office. I had a feeling that he thought I might be the one most likely to show him where we were spiritually weak. And our conversation started with him strongly commenting on how detrimental sexual sin was to ministry. We discussed other things, but that subject came up several more times in our conversation over the next hour. I wasn't sure if he was testing me to see where we stood on that, if this was a primary focus of his ministry, if this was a problem in his ministry, or if this was a personal problem he was fighting. But, again, there were mental & spiritual red flags raised. If he was testing me, he wasn't very subtle about it. If it was the focus of his ministry, then he seemed to be focusing more on sexual sin than on Jesus Christ or what Christ could do to heal it. Likewise, if it had become a problem in his ministry, he needed more focus on Christ in the issue. And, if sexual sin had become a personal issue for him, then Satan was doing a wonderful job of keeping his focus on comparing himself to others & on the problem, & away from the true solution, Jesus Christ.

I sometimes feel sorry for the Pharisees. I'm sure some of them really loved God, but their lifelong training blinded them to anything but ritual solutions. And we can say that the same happens with any of the more ritualistic religious groups, Christian or otherwise. But, likewise, even evangelical Christian organizations can fall into the same trap when they focus too much on their ministry (or area of ministry) & not enough on Jesus Christ. Or if too much focus is given to their problems, without highlighting the Solution.

It's very easy to get angry with people who choose to live in some form of wrong thinking. But the truth is that we are there with them for a reason. No matter what, we're going to learn something from their decisions. However, I think we're there as much to be able to teach & counsel them, giving them a real opportunity to either willingly be unchanging or to come into the light of Truth. And we certainly can pray for them & their decisions -- we DO know "The Great Physician" who can heal & change not only physical ailments, but mental & emotional ones, as well.

Lord, help us to not only counsel, teach & evangelize those who don't know You as they should, but to pray for them, as well. Amen.

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