Last week we looked at some lessons that should cause us to pause and ponder about our lives and our relationship with God. The recent shootings remind us that evil is in the world, and remind us that we cannot fight evil with evil, but with good. Hence, Christians are to be the light of the world and the city set on a hill (Matthew 5:13-16). We must fight evil with good, as Paul clearly teaches in Romans 12:17-19, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, ‘vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
But are we to live our lives fearful of everything? Absolutely not! “But God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7). Faith demands that we believe that God will be with us no matter what is going on, and even if something results in our passing, we have nothing to fear in that as well. Once we pass from this life, we know that God will be there, and our spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 3:21; 8:8; 12:7). God encourages mindfulness, not fear!
We realize that life is not fair! In Psalms 73:1-17 the Psalmist looks at the wicked, and it seems, as he examined their lives, that they are “always at ease,” “increase in riches,” “they have more than their hearts could wish” . . . Then the Psalmist goes into the sanctuary (where God is) and finds their end. It is so unlike the way they live on earth. Beloved, let’s try to look at things from an eternal perspective.
We are reminded that life is fragile. Our lives are as vapor, mists in the morning, like a weaver’s shuttle (James 4:14-17; Job 7:6). We think each day will be like those in the past, with problems and trials, joy and happiness. But many who arose this morning will not live through the day. We need to always be prepared to meet God. Are you prepared? If he comes in the next few minutes where will you spend eternity?
I thank those who have encouraged us; the elders and deacons are trying to draft a plan to be prepared if we are faced with an emergency such as in Tennessee, or if we are faced with any kind of emergency. Someone has written “To fail to plan is to plan to fail.” We need to think through some possible scenarios, again, not being fearful, but being mindful that our world has changed and we must be watchful, not ignorant of what is around us. Look at some of the many times the Bible, in the New Testament, tell us to watch (Matthew 24:42-43; 25:3; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Colossians 4:2 and 1 Thessalonians 5:6). Some of these passages remind us to be watchful for the coming of the Lord; others just encourage us to watch.
Please continue to pray for the church here, that we (the elders) always make the best decisions we can for the good of the whole church, as well as striving to share the good news with the community and the world. With God’s help we will do what needs to be done, and make it to heaven. Isn’t this the real goal—the real “reality?”
I came across this article from 1989, and share it with you. PLEASE READ IT THROUGH TO THE END.
GIVE ME THE OLD ONE
“I used to preach for a church. It was in the Northeast, but most of the members were from the South. They had been displaced by economics. Simply stated, they were starving as small farmers; so they came to the industrial centers.
“They brought their religion with them. Since they could find no churches which were like their churches back home, they started churches, — in houses, in school buildings, in Masonic lodges. They met and sang the old songs, prayed, studied the Scriptures and interpreted them just as they had in the South. They prospered, and more people came and joined them; so they built buildings like the ones they had “back home.” To outsiders, they were radically conservative, hard-headed, legalistic, red necked bigots, but it didn’t bother them. . . .
“After all these years, thirty or more, I have this perspective, They were committed people. The church was their life. Every aspect of their existence was tied directly to church. All sporting activities, whether baseball, basketball, hunting, fishing or golf, was a church activity. All entertainment — eating, board games, card games, singing, conversation, visiting or travel — was a church activity, done with church people, centering on religious topics with spiritual overtones.
“When the church doors were open they were there — all of them. When there was a singing, a meeting, a study, a VBS, a work day, they were there. Other activities were suspended. With them the “Lord’s day” was the “Lord’s day,” not their day to shop, recreate . . . Giving ten percent was a minimum no one disputed.
“Over the intervening years I have criticized them for their legalism, their “fear and guilt” motivation, and some of it was justified. But it wasn’t all fear. They loved the church, they loved their God, and they loved each other. They proved it time and again. Yes, they were quarrelsome, but when the chips were down, they were there; though they were often unyielding, they were generous and forgiving.
“I find myself worried about the smugness of many who have made a new theology out of criticizing the past. . . . Because we are overwhelmed with materialism, selfishness and complacency, we find it necessary to explain their dedication in some negative way so we can feel better about ourselves.
We say they understood neither grace nor the Holy Spirit. I believe that to be largely true, especially with the latter. I challenge the more modern understanding which allows us to live without sacrifice, without an idea of who we are, or what we are, or why we are.
Our churches are wracked with divorce, pre-marital and extra-marital sex. Our children are biblically illiterate and have almost no understanding of their heritage because their parents are either ashamed of it or are ignorant. Is this the result of a deeper understanding of grace? God save me from it. We don’t preach Jesus to our neighbors because we don’t know the saved from the lost. Is this the result of a closer communion with the Holy Spirit? God save us from it. Our culture dictates far more of our moral and ethical principles than does the Word of God, and we are far more concerned with social problems, like women’s right, than we are with the problem of mankind—sin and separation from God.
Grace is now understood as the indulgence I shower upon myself as I feel the need. It means I don’t have to give ten percent, so I don’t. I don’t have to attend Sunday or Wednesday; so I don’t. It has become a panacea which covers complacency, materialism and selfishness. The Lord’s Day is a misnomer. It is my day, and if I choose to give a part of it to God, He ought to be grateful. If there is a baptism, we crassly exit the building because they take much too long and we’ve seen them before. Our services are geared more to an entertainment mode designed to please as many as possible and offend no one.
If the new understanding of grace and the indwelling Spirit are related to the results I witness, please, give me the old one. John Smith The Highland Announcer, August 10, 1989