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!


Eric said...


Thank you for writing this post. You are correct about the situation of the institutional church; numbers do seem to be the ruler of the day.

An additional help in all this would be a move back to church discipline within the church. I'm referring to discipline for issues of more than just sexual immorality. I'm talking about things like gossip, jealousy, and pride. While this would be difficult to implement, I believe it would help purify the church by calling sinful attitudes what they are - sinful and destructive.


ded said...

Aussie John,

Very encouraging post. It opened my heart to see a bit more why a regular Sunday school class or a Sunday night fellowship meal can feel so empty.

I often want to place responsibility for such a state of affairs in the laps of the leadership (and there is a connection, of course). If people within the church meeting are a mixture of those renewed in faith and those who are not, and those who are not renewed look and sound the same; then it stands to reason that fellowship between believers based on a recognition of the Spirit within will be blunted.

If I am unrenewed, I will be dull to all attempts by others to reach for my spirit and leave the meeting feeling unconnected, while giving natural man rationalizations for what I have experienced. If I am renewed, but immature at understanding things in the spirit, I might leave feeling unfulfilled but unable to identify why.

Within the context of a group with its expectations on behavior, as long as everyone is meeting those expectations, very little is likely to change. One might conclude the answer is to raise the expectation on behavior, but this will most likely result in a forcing others which becomes legalism. There is no spiritual life there.

Holy Spirit revival indeed is the answer! My question is, if the group's history together is predicated on the model and spirit of the numbers perspective, is there any knowledge of the Spirit to revive?

I think Christians need to embrace a heritage that is described in Scripture, a sense and trust of the in-dwelling Christ. In knowing one is in communion with the Holy Spirit by the sovereignty of God, the light of the Lord illuminates all questions a believer needs answered and brings perfect peace over everything else.

Aussie John said...



If the majority of the congregation are not NEW creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17),if they still have a heart of stone,hard,cold and
unyielding, they will be unaffected by spiritual truths (1 Cor.2:14.

The easy decisionism engendered by a numbers oriented philosophy of ministry, and practiced wholesale today, causes a congregation to be filled with tares, which weakens the congregational spirit until the genuine believers are filtered out leaving nothing more than a secular social gathering, practicing a habitual ritual, which tradition has come to regard as worship.

Joe Blackmon said...

Dude, I really dig your blog.

I think we have gotten so entrenched in our ideas about what Church should look like that we've forgotten what we're really supposed to be about. Praise God for seminary trained men, but it doesn't take a degree to teach the truth.

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