Thursday, September 8, 2011

In The World

I know!  If you read my comment on one of the social networking sites, I was taking a little reprieve from writing.  But that’s kind of like saying I’m going to stop breathing.  It’s part of who God made me to be.  Having said that, let’s get to today’s thought.

John 13:1  Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

John 15:19  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Recently, I had several online conversations that made me think about the full meaning of those verses.  In one where I summarized a bit, I was talking about one of my pet peeves.  And the conversation kind of shifted because of the use of the term “necking”.  Here’s what I said:

“ I was born in '43 and, by the time I could appreciate the term and the act, it was something my parents understood.  So, I'm not too sure how far back it goes.  But that reminds me of one of my pet peeves.”

“Every generation has to have it's own style and vocabulary, to be different.  The same seems to be true with marketers, authors and speakers.  If you don't have the next great concept, your book, shirt, song, whatever supposedly isn't going to get the size audience it ‘deserves’.  A few days ago, I piped up in a conversation where the originator used the term "community" for people in the church.  It's not the way I'm used to seeing ‘community’ used and the term is much more limiting than "the church" or "the Body of Christ".  So, why do we feel the need to add words or change styles to redefine things that don't need redefining?”

In that original conversation, I was confused by someone’s question because they referred to people in the church as a “community”.  The idea was that you could leave a church facility and form of worship, but you couldn’t eliminate the connection to the community that was built there.  And that description is where I have a problem.  Everywhere I’ve seen the term “community” used, it denotes a group of people with a common interest.  And that short changes the people we fellowship with.  Individually and as a body.  If your church relationships are based on common interests, you’re missing the blessing of understanding the diversity of the fullness of the Body.

Along with the “community” discussion, there was a comment from someone on a social media site that his church was looking for a “Change Administrator”.  That was described as not dealing with changes but being ahead of them.  In other words, the style, vocabulary, musical tastes etc. of the congregation drive that particular church.  And that administrator is supposed to keep church services and life interesting to the flock by keeping ahead of these trends.  Interesting.

John 13:1 tells us we are in the world.  John 15:9 says we were of the world, but no longer are of the world, we were chosen out of the world.  So, here’s my thought.  There’s an old saying that ”If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”  No matter whether it’s the intellectual community, street people or general society as our example, if we take on the trappings of the world, the world will absorb us into its way of thinking.  Not the other way around.  And there are Biblical warnings about that.  There’s nothing wrong with being in style, if it looks good.  But the moment we consciously take on the “look and feel” of the world to draw people to Christ, the world starts drawing us.  And that’s something we need to guard against.

How do people see Christ in your life so that it draws them to Him?


  1. O.K- so here's a question for you- and please be assured that I actually think your argument is a good one.
    Are we by using the term "church" limiting our community for want of a better word to believers only. I communicate with many non Christians, and have found that many won't go near a church because "they think that they are better than me, I know they are not, they just hide their 'sin.'" While this may not be the intention of the Christian, it is the way that many churches are perceived. And we are supposed to be the hands and feet of Christ, administering to those in a hurting world that need us most.
    As to the second part of your argument, I agree. I don't think we need the bells and whistles and lingo and entertainment on a Sunday; I just think we need love, and an ability to listen to the reasons behind the hurt in order to heal.

  2. Thanks for your question, Elly.

    Yes, I am limiting the church to believers. Think about the parable of the tares and the wheat or Garrison Keiller's well known quote, "Going to church no more makes you a christian than sleeping in your garage makes you a car.". The perception of individual churches can based on the loudest and most outspoken. For years, I myself was away from any church because of the hypocrisy I perceived. I painted the entire Christian community with a broad brush, based on the actions of some. Until I realized what Christianity was about and what real Christians were. And changing that perception is part of real evangelism, isn't it? As much as Hell is real and terrible, if we don't communicate God's love and that there is another option based on that love, we're shortchanging the unbelievers we meet. And giving them a wrong perception of who we are -- sinners saved by grace.

  3. That should have read: "The perception of individual churches can be based on the loudest and the most outspoken."

    And I'm not sure I was clear in my last sentence. We are sinners saved by grace. But we can be misperceived by unbelievers if we communicate in the wrong way. Avoiding Hell is Truth. But being given the opportunity for God's forgiveness and love for all eternity is a more important part of Truth.