In thinking about debates over church change, I began to think about how the Lord Jesus must have appeared to His contemporaries in the forms of Judaisim of the time. He went to synagogue regularly, He seems to have followed many of the forms, but He also represented a major challenge to the forms of the time. One of the main contentions with Him was on Sabbath and how that was honored.
From a Christian point of view that is preposterous.
The Son of God, Immanuel, was questioned on His adherence to the Sabbath. But we are facing the same thing within our Churches at this time. Only this time we have to be careful it is not ourselves that we find in the Herodian, Pharisee, or Sadducee camps.
The irony of it all, right?
When I have interacted with atheists online, or pagans in this case, many question God’s actions. Why would a good God, a loving God do this… or this, whatever they, in their own moral judgment find fault with. Yet, this is something we keep doing… we keep placing ourselves in the judgment chair during God’s interventions (in the way we are used to doing things, or seeing things in the earth and in our lives.)
And as Christians – how much of our judging each other on Sabbath matters equates to judging Christ Jesus on how He is building His Church.
It is just a question.
I think there are two reasons for the shift we are seeing among Christians. One is that outside pressure is building. This is not all the devil’s work. Some of it is the will of God in Christ for us. We must face that being a Christian in a hostile world is not a cushy job. The pressure will unite those who love God – eventually.
And that brings me to my idea on the inner crisis. For too long the tares have had the upper hand… we have those who love God and those who are enemies within abiding within the same camp. I think God is doing some sifting. And our job in the sifting process is just ‘to be’. If we are the wheat seed then we will have the substance of His spirit and we will fall together on matters eventually. Those who are not, many of them people we love, people we admire, may well be sifted out into the wind. The responsibility for us all is to encourage each other to have the sincere faith in Christ Jesus. No judging involved there- but lots of encouragement and patience.
That means, for me, that I refrain, unless I hear something very clear from God, from harshly dealing with a brother or sister on either side of this.
I say this, for this reason: we can’t see clearly in the sifting process. When things are lifted into upheaval we cannot see the big picture, but we may be sure of one thing
Where do we need to judge? To abide by the scriptures within the changes instituted. At some point the scripture must become the standard of judgment for our actions, and we may well be remiss applying this on the personal scale before we apply it on the general scale ( the old splinter and beam teaching). Perhaps this is where so many stumble.
In scoping out where we enter dangerous ground:
We have gotten used to marking out our own battlegrounds and protecting our territories. I would issue my voice of caution on this. There are things that are terribly detrimental, and an isolated Christian trying to maintain against ‘the world, the flesh, and the devil’ is one of those things… but how many times is that caused by an apathetic, if not harsh church body? And in that case perhaps the structures do need dismantling.
The Reformation was a major dismantling of Church form. We can’t escape that fact. And Protestant that I am, I see it as the Lord Jesus turning over the tables in the Tabernacle.
The cry of Christ is the cry of the prophet “My house shall be called the house of prayer!”
What is the Lord’s house in your denominational form of this day? Ask yourself that question honestly… because as one involved in corporate prayer for most of my Christian walk… my assessment is that it is now rare to have houses of prayer, while it is common to have social clubs and entertainment stadiums, or even disaster relief corporations, as substitutes.
Just how long do you think God will wink His eye at this? How long before the sellers tables get overturned and the status quo be disrupted?
Be honest with yourself and what you know of the Lord. Answer it for yourself.