A Christian Worldview of the Church, Part 2

Perhaps the worst mistake a church can make is to operate as if there is no error in us, or within us. Certainly Paul didn’t approach the churches he wrote to in the New Testament as if, now that they’d come to Christ, sin was a thing of the past. Instead he warned, reproved, confronted, and forgave.

These elements are also present in John’s writing in Revelation. No surprise, since both authors wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. What I like about John’s passages is that the messages to the churches categorize the sinful behavior—for them and for us—he’s warning against. In an enumeration of specifics, it’s too easy to use those in prideful comparisions. Well, I gave the newspaper delivery guy a $5 Christmas bonus last year, and I know my neighbor didn’t. Too bad he’s not as generous as I am. Thank God, I’m not like those selfish Wall Street CEOs.

The more general category—do you love your neighbor as yourself, for example—forces us to either examine our own lives or ignore the commandment. Neither option will lead to pride in connection to law keeping. If we do the former, we will repent or rebel. If the latter, we’ve already chosen to rebel.

Wednesday, I considered the passage directed to the church in Ephesus, and the admonition from God was to repent because they had left their first love. The second church to receive a similar admoniton was that in Pergamum:

But I have a few things against you, because you have some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality … Repent therefore; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.

Here John points out what these people were doing by relating their actions to those of an Old Testament prophet—a prophet, it turned out, who was trying to work both sides of the fence. He had said he would only report what God told him to. God’s message was a curse on the army opposing Israel. But it was the king of Isreal’s enemy who hired the prophet. So he turned around and told the king what he could do to erode Israel rather than defeat the nation outright.

Pergamum was tolerating just such people—those who taught others how to chip away at truth and lead God’s people into turning their backs on Him. They were, in fact, tolerating false teachers. Might this not be something the Church today should guard against? And I’m not talking about the leaders of a particular body or denomination.

I think all of us who name the name of Jesus need to see if those we listen to are consistent with Scripture. Or do our teachers direct us to political action more than to prayer? To demanding of God rather than repenting to Him? To expressing our feelings, especially our anger, instead of praising God despite our circumstances? Or any number of other ideas that square with psychology, societal norms, or what have you, while clashing with Scripture.

Who on my bookshelf holds to the teaching of Balaam?

Published in: on November 28, 2008 at 11:53 am  Comments Off on A Christian Worldview of the Church, Part 2  
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