Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why Would You Say That? Part 2

“God made man in His own image  Man, as a grateful being, returned the favor.”

The quote is what got this whole train of thought going, the title is based on the result of the thought patterns we’ve discussed.  Remember that the thought pattern starts with an original premise, goes through a chain of logic, and arrives at a conclusion.  With that in mind, take a look at the quote.  If man “returns the favor” by assuming that God can be coerced or flattered into doing something for them will conclude that the end result of prayer is always earthly blessings.  As if they controlled God’s actions, instead of Him controlling our situation.  Likewise, if the original premise is that God has double standards like we do in some cases, then the conclusion will be that He’ll wink at our pet “minor indiscretions”.  And the person who understands God as sovereign and as totally just will have a hard time fathoming those previous conclusions because his original premise is so different that his conclusions have to be different, too.  Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:”.  The basis of his thinking will force his conclusions.

One of my heroes, in the broad sense, is the pastor of the small or underfunded church.  Jon Acuff wrote about a solution to that via a site called Only 144.  The idea is that the group behind the site puts on 144 hour sales of various resources for 144 hours at ridiculously low prices.  So that churches that might not otherwise be able to afford them can to take advantage of the sales to get them.  Jon’s post is here: http://bit.ly/qdHepC.  But Jon mentions his dad in the article, talking about performing magic with meager church funds.  And that makes Jon’s dad one of my unsung heroes.  But he could just as easily have started out with a premise that was based in his performance and the size of the church coffers.  Leading to the only possible conclusion from that premise would be that the church can’t do much.  Because it leaves out God given talent, intellect and wisdom.  And it leaves out God from their thinking.  Without help, the two different pastors will never understand each other because the starting point of their thought patterns is so different, leading to different conclusions.

One last example.  Pastor Pete Wilson tweeted, “The Future Of The American Church? http://bit.ly/pTroVb”.  It’s worth reading and thinking about.  Pastor Wilson talks about how many of his pastor friends and their churches are very white.  He contrasts that with the latest census results that indicate that caucasians are slowly but surely becoming the minority.  Pastor Pete brings up the question of how will they adjust to the change in population?  What I’ve seen of Crosspoint pastors, I doubt they’ll have an issue transitioning.  But this question highlights another thought pattern difference.  There are churches that minister specifically to one nationality, race, or language group.  It can be from a comfortability factor or it may be all they know.  So, there can be African and african-american churches that rarely if ever evangelize whites or latinos, white churches that only communicate with whites, latino churches that only deal with Spanish speakers. 

In contrast to the above, I’m in a church that has to include translation into languages like Spanish, Russian, French, and Swahili.  I can hang out with African pastors, Hungarian Bible college students, and visitors from the Philippines.   What’s the difference from the churches described in the previous paragraph?  Exactly what we’ve been discussing – the original premise.  For evangelism, the premise is fourfold:

  1. That we can take God is with us wherever we soul win,
  2. We need to develop relationships -- not just one time “hit and run” evangelism,
  3. If we use wisdom in where we go and not going alone, pretty much anywhere is possible, and
  4. Most importantly, every person we talk to is a soul that either need salvation or edification.  So, any cultural, language, or economic differences are things God has to deal with   After all, as Jonah 2:9 tells us, He’s the one who saves, anyway.  We’re not responsible for the results, just for whether we go or not.
Having the right premise can take is in directions we didn’t consider before, cut down doctrinal barriers, allow us to bless and be blessed by people we had never considered before.  As I said, last time,“If the premise is God’s love for His children then His logic takes us to several conclusions.  We can fellowship around what Christ has done for us.  We can be of one mind that we need to give unbelievers the opportunity to become a child of God.  And we can fellowship together as children of God.”

So, what’s your original premise?  And does it make you ask some one else, “Why would you say that?”  Or does your premise promote unity and fellowship?

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