Friday, October 7, 2016

"Whaddya got?"-- part 2

The Word for today:
Psalm 119:153-176
mark this: Psalm 119:139 --
My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget your words.
and this: John 2:14-17 --
In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade." Then his disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me."
(Today we conclude a two-part article which began yesterday.)
Warning: Part 1 of this article protested current church practices and is certain to offend. I, you, we must be awakened--rudely if necessary--to the insidious encroachment of traditions which stunt the growth and impact of God's church.
The love we proclaim for scripture demands more than the love we might have for a poem or a painting or a symphony. Love for scripture demands that we align our lives and our churches with its precepts. When Jesus Christ observed that the house of God had forsaken God's precepts, he made a whip of cords...
But bear in mind that protesting against the wayward traditions of man, as Jesus Christ and Martin Luther did, is a far cry from the divisive grumbling we often hear in the church.
Jesus Christ cleansed the temple so that it would once again fulfill the purpose God intended. He acted according to scripture, in order to repair the house of the LORD.
Mere grumbling against Sally, Sue, Tommy, and Tim (as an appetizer before we dig in to the main course--roast preacher) is seldom according to scripture, and results in a house divided--which, scripture tells us, will fall. (Mark 3:25)
Unless our protesting voices are in accordance with scripture, we do well to zip it. There is a vast difference between a rebel with a cause and a griper with an ax to grind.
Yesterday, I stirred things up. I meant to. I took on some sacred cows, both large and small.
My intention was to force us to ponder whether some of our deeply-ingrained church traditions are in accordance with scripture.
So often we rail against a world that does not operate according to God's precepts, but how often do we honestly hold up the patterns and practices of the church against the patterns and practices of scripture?
This may surprise you, but Jesus did not focus on re-structuring Rome or the Herodian dynasty. He just rendered to Caesar the things that were Caesar's, then went and drove the money changers out of the Temple. Zeal for God's house consumed his time and energy, because he knew that God's "church" -- not secular government -- is the only agent of real change in the world.
You can go to a thousand church committee meetings before you will hear somebody pipe up and ask, "Does scripture provide any guidelines for the matter before us?"
It doesn't matter what I thought, in part 1 of this article, about denominations, or seminaries, or gender-specific Bible education. Who cares what I think. I don't even care what I think!
The important thing is what scripture thinks, and that we care enough to consult it. The child of God must reflexively wonder--"What does God's Word say about that?"
May you be that person who pipes up at the meeting! Most of the people in your church will look at you like you came from the far side of Pluto when you insist on searching scripture about everything.
But that's alright--because Jesus did come from the far side of Pluto, and he wouldn't so much as lift a finger without reflexively seeking the counsel of God first:
I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. (John 8:28)
For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment--what to say and what to speak. (John 12:49)
He came to establish the Kingdom of God. Toward that end he upended the traditions which had rendered the "church" powerless.
And he warned us about the leaven which would infect the whole lump:
The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened. (Matthew 13:33)
Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. (Matthew 16:6)
Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:12)
We've been warned, so let's pipe up.

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