Remnant

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At the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. Romans 11:4.

This week I have heard sermon podcasts and radio broadcasts by leaders of this generation of God’s people.  A growing number of these sermons are themed around how to do church. Its a popular topic today, which is holy and right.  The household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth (2 Tim.3:15), is a subject of mighty value. These sermons, however, have all been the same song, different verse.  All about how the Other Guys are doing it wrong.

The traditional church is too judgmental, too mean-spirited, too narrow-minded, too stuck up & separate from the dominant culture.  This church has too much doctrine, too much emphasis on theology, too much teaching, too little heart.

The emergent church (called “postmodern” in a disgusted voice) is too fluffy, too trivial, too flippant with sacred things, too steeped in & engulfed by dominant culture, too anxious to please those from whom God has called us to be set apart.  This church has too much singing, too much drama, too many pop-culture trends, too little thought.

Not only are there sermons, but actual books.  I have seen (and even read a chapter or two before the bile rises) a few tomes that go on for sixty thousand words proving that one of these churches is totally rad, while the other is on a slippery slope to apostasy.  Each Other Guy is taking the church to a never-before-seen level of disintegration and chaos (as if God’s people have ever been more than a remnant within a vanishing world).

I am moved by the utter sincerity and strong virtue of these leaders.  They are truly afraid of the impact that the Other Guys will have on the church.

There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned aside, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.  Romans 3:10-12.

Everybody hates God.  That is not the Other Guy’s fault. No one seeks for God; God shows Himself.  The church is in the hands of the Living God, not the Other Guy.

Yet I reserved 7,000 for myself in Israel – all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose lips have not kissed him.  1 Kings 19:18.

God is the God of the remnant.  He has always been.  The church is a ragtag gang of world-rebels who have abdicated the authority of darkness to step into marvelous light.  We are each an immortal soul on a road to glory, a sacred vessel of divine grace.  We are all transformed by love, raised to new life, a consecrated vignette in an eternal story that outshouts and outshines us all.

There are no Other Guys amongst God’s redeemed.

Remember that at one time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenant of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For He himself is our peace, who has made the two one and  has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. Eph.2:12-14.

We are among those who have refused to bow our knees to Baal.  Our mission is not to convert each other, but to shine into the darkness.  There is so much darkness. What if we let the Other Guys run their church according to God’s Word and their consciences and spent our gifts and energies expanding and equipping the church beyond preferences, into transcendent orthodoxy?

And, what if you are right about blind spots in your own church?  God has always raised up prophets among a group to tilt it back to center.  If you see an imbalance in your own church (where you are committed and respected), by all means be a solution.  But be a flame of holy redemption, not a smolder of division.  And don’t preach a protected sermon from a high pulpit into a part of God’s country where you have no authority.  Yuck.

We are in a battle for something that matters, the souls of the lost.  Let us remember who we are, God’s remnant, chosen by grace, and let us be strong and kind.

Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hell will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:17-18.

What do y’all think?


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6 responses »

  1. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I love doctrine and I love psychology. I love discussing the glory of God, how He has functioned through time, understanding His character and what it means for us. I love picking apart Biblical and extra-Biblical support for the way that we operate as Christians, how we treat each other and how we functional as a body. I love trying to understand what guidelines God gave us to operate on his Earth and why we fight or embrace that at times.

    When I consider the Church a spiritual whole instead of just a building or denomination that has their own set of ideas or agreements, I think it is reasonable and am actually encouraged by teachers across the world sharing with each other ideas about how we operate as a body.

    I think many have done that wrong and it’s turned into criticism or slander. A much smaller number are able to do it in a godly, uplifting and honorable way. And those are the guys I look to as a model instead of the ones that have made it a pissing contest between their buildings.

    God has entrusted much to the leaders of the Church as a whole. And across the body there are many wolves that need to be called out and leaders that are doing damage to God’s people and the lost. But as long as we remain united in our calling and desire to seek the lost and share the gospel, we should be able to share our differences in a way that is honoring to God.

    I’d recommend checking out The Elephant Room (elephantroom.com) as an example of what I believe is a healthy way to approach the topics and concerns that are probably addressed in many of the books church leaders have written. Correction, encouragement, apologies, forgiveness, questioning of tactics, questioning of church philosophy, all done in the setting of a unified purpose and heart for what God has called all of us to do. This DVD series (or at least what I’ve seen of it so far) encourages me that we can address the concerns within the church that we feel passionate and called to without it becoming a distraction from the greater purpose.

    • You have brought up a really good point, Micah. Opening up discussion, challenging each other toward a greater depth of leadership and truth, fighting FOR each other – all of that is “iron sharpening iron.” I haven’t heard much of that – mostly just “those guys are doing it wrong, but we are REALLY doing church right over here” Maybe its the delivery that is flawed, instead of the heart, but what you are describing is not what I am hearing. What you describe is wholly righteous, and absolutely necessary for health and vitality of God’s people. Have you heard the prophet/priest/king leadership role model? Jesus was the perfect fulfillment of all three. Some people believe that God has gifted leaders with those roles in the church. Kings are the strong, visionary, forward thinking creative leaders. Priests are the heart-leaders who engage relationally and move people toward intimacy with God. Prophets have it the worst. Their role is to purity, counter-balance. The Holy Spirit gives them insight into what is missing or flawed, then gives them courage and clarity to challenge the status quo and create change. I believe that prophets are necessary. But I absolutely don’t believe that every single person with an opinion is a prophet. God raises up prophets to challenge issues of morality and orthodoxy, not preference. And prophets have a specific calling and the ability to carry it out, not just a good point and a platform.

      I haven’t read The Elephant Room, but I will check out the website today. I like this discussion! Thoughts?

  2. Well said Heidi. Steve and I believe that every generation needs to question our Christian faith and the traditions of the church, but with respect and honor. It seems to be the hallmark of our culture in this new millenium to be critical, sarcastic and angry. We need to respond in the opposite spirit, the Spirit of Christ, of grace and compassion.

  3. The first thing that comes to my mind is 2 Timothy 2:14 – 3:10 ish. I think about Paul teaching Timothy how to handle church strife, telling him first to study to show himself approved unto God, but not to get into silly arguements: to meekly instruct those that oppose themselves. He reminds Timothy of the major problem he had had with Hymenaeus. It seems that Paul wants to make it very clear to Timothy that in the Church (Paul calls it a “great house”), sin is going to invade, because people, even Christians, oppose themselves. God’s house is not a great house because the people in it or walk through it are so great to be around, even as the fellow redeemed. Ch 2 vs. 19 says, “Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure…”. What great comfort that is. It is remarkably sad to hear that leaders are fearful for the church when God so clearly let them know what would be happening to truth and doctrine as time passed. Look at the first half of 2 Timothy 3 – things like “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away,” “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledgo of the truth,” and so so many other things. And then there is encouragement – “But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all [men], as theirs also was.”

    As Christians, we are certainly called to be watchmen, to not be decieved by fair speeches or by false doctrines. And it also seems that Paul had no fear of calling out by name those who were subversive and also their doctrines. But this is certainly not the main focus of any of his writings, and the calling out part certainly seems like the easier part of all of the ways he told Timothy to handle the church (and also the part that Timothy didn’t really need to do much participating in).

    • Daphne, thank you for that wisdom from Scripture. Its clear that the point of Paul’s charge to the leadership of the church is to fight for truthful othodoxy and moral leadership. Beyond that, issues of preference in worship (types of songs, size of buildings, whether or not there is a choir or new carpet or a coffee shop in the lobby) are distracting from the mission of the church. I appreciate your insight and clarity. Hugs, sis!

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