Monday, January 21, 2008

Parasites or Mimics?

One of the reasons I read Alan Knox's blog site

In a response to his very pertinent contribution prompted by noticing mistletoe growing on oak trees, I was reminded of Jesus comments regarding the tares in the parable of the Wheat and the Tares.

One of the important lessons of this parable is often missed: The tares are confidently identified as being a common weed grass (darnel, of the genus Lolium), which, to a casual observer looks like wheat.

It is not until the weed actually bears fruit that the wheat and the weed are easily distinguished. The weed seed is very different from the wheat and is actually very poisonous. The amazing thing about this is that the tare's poisonous capacity is caused by a parasitic fungus on the seed.

I just know you are going to tell me that the tares isn't a parasite living off the actual wheat plant, as does the mistletoe which draws its nutrients out of the tree. You are right! Even though not doing it in exactly the same way, the tares competes with the wheat for everything the wheat needs for life and reproduction, as does the mistletoe.

That is exactly why Alan's comments are pertinent to many of the problems found in todays "church". During my many years in "church" life numbers has been the major thrust of "church" leaders, numbers of "converts", numbers of "baptisms", numbers of dollars (especially dollars in some groups), numbers attending meetings, all of which were the commonly predominant matters of discussion at gatherings of leaders etc.

When "numbers" is the focus, especially in "churches" which are literally ruled by numbers conscious leaders, what should we expect?

It is my contention that it is this "numbers" emphasis, has weakened the institutional "church" and not only encouraged the proliferation of "tares", "church members" who look exactly like genuine Christians, who have responded to a numbers oriented gospel, which allows them to attach themselves to a "church", which gives them a ticket to "heaven" and all the perks of being a "Christian". Having said "The Sinner's Prayer" does not qualify people for baptism and membership in the congregation of God's redeemed people!

What is the answer? The tares cannot be removed from the "church" because we cannot positively know which they are, although maybe, having some idea. Only a genuine sovereign move of God in Holy Spirit revival will fill the bill, awakening the genuine Christians, and hopefully converting the predominant "pseudo-Christians".

Otherwise, a new start, a new reformation, if you like, with new expressions of Christ's Body assembled, who look to the Scriptures taught by the Holy Spirit, who have ONE SHEPHERD, the Lord Jesus Christ, amongst whom leaders are raised up, who are recognized by their ministry and life amongst the Body, not the recommendations of academic qualification (not that these cannot be used to God's glory), nor external leaders who may, or may not, be amongst the tares.

All of this raises a lot of questions. Let's look to the one source we have for the answers, the Scriptures!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Bit of Everything

I guess that a belated "Happy New Year" greeting is better than none, so, "Happy New Year"!

Contributing anything of value has escaped me since my last entry, as I haven't felt well enough to concentrate on writing, but I have been grateful to be able to read some great blogs, and occasionally drop, what I hope is a reasonable comment.

My precious best friend, my wife Valerie, is, uncomplaining as always, right there beside me. God certainly knew the partner I needed when He drew us together in quite amazing circumstances (I might tell you about that one day).

Not quite three score years and ten, I'm still amazed, and saddened, at the perceptions which many have as to what constitutes being a Christian.

We have been blessed to have our youngest daughter, our youngest son and his wife, and our oldest daughter, her husband and two lovely sons visiting with us. I love them dearly, but find it so distressing when our son-in-law, who is a deacon in a Baptist church, cannot discuss what, or why he believes what he does. When I get to be with my other son-in-law we have great conversations about our common faith, even though we disagree on some things. The same with my sons. Unity in the Spirit is very tangible!

It seems that across this planet of ours, which seems to be getting smaller and smaller, Biblical understanding is becoming less and less of a matter of importance, and growing like the proverbial bean-stalk is what I call a smorgasbord attitude that says, "I will choose what I think needs to be believed for me to be a Christian". As I've discovered, this usually means that philosophies are often accumulated from religions such as Humanism, Hinduism and Buddhism and syncretized with Christian teaching.

The theology of many is being rationalized to the extent that a supposed "gospel of grace" rejects the idea of God's wrath because rationalism cannot understand God being loving and wrathful at the same time. Wrath, in relationship to God is simply defined as "anger", rather than being the unchangeable, permanent attitude of God towards sin.

God's grace is not an emotional response from a benign smiling deity. God's grace is a necessary consequence of His wrath, if any are to be saved, and is as permanent a part of His character as is His wrath.

I am so thankful that it was because God is wrathful AND graciously loving that He, because of His grace, became incarnate, to live the perfect life, which I cannot live, to satisfy His own laws, which I cannot do, and to die as the ultimate blood sacrifice, as a propitiation (appeasement, satisfaction of what His wrath requires) for me and all who He calls to Himself. Grace that moves in the face of wrath is real grace.

That's what Christmas is about, and Easter and every other day of the year, God's gracious act towards sinners, like me, who were under His lawful, just wrath. That's why Christmas is every day for me!

If you haven't read it, read this.

May this new year mean that the wrath of God becomes so real to you all, that you will be caused to see how amazing His grace really is!