Some Things That Do Not Belong in the Lord's Chur|
The title of this article may suggest that I will write of such things as instrumental music, fellowship halls, institutions for temporal needs, political speeches, or other such unauthorized or worldly things. While those things certainly do not belong in the Lordís church, I intend to consider more basic and fundamental things that are more likely to sneak into the church and are potentially more dangerous. These are things that "come from the heart, and those defile the manĒ (Matt. 5:18). They not only defile the man, but they also defile the church (1Cor. 5:6-13).
First and foremost, sin does not belong in the Lordís church. The entire lesson could be summarized with this statement, for all of the things that we will consider are sinful. Sin is a transgression of Godís will. When we sin, we miss the intended goal that God has for us (Rom. 3:23). A person can sin by intentionally defying Godís will or by acting without any regard for Godís law (lawlessness Ė 1John 3:4). Christians are not to practice sin as a way of life (1John 3:9). This does not mean that Christians will never commit acts of sin (1John 1:8-10), but rather it means that they are not to have sinful habits. Christians have been reborn in the image of God and the divine nature, and this new, holy nature does not include the practice of sin (2Cor. 5:17; 1Pet. 1:14-19; 2Pet. 1:4). If sin is not to be found within Christians, then it is not to be found within the assembly of Christians, which is the Lordís church.
Hatred does not belong in the Lordís church. The Lordís church is all about love. God gave His Son because of love (John 3:16); Jesus died because of love (John 15:13); we obey the Lord because of love (John 14:15); we preach the gospel because of love (1Tim. 1:5). Where is there room for hate? Of course, God hates sin, and so do we (Prov. 6:16-19), but how can we hate our fellow man in the world when God loves him (Matt. 5:43-48)? How can we carry grudges and hard feelings toward our brethren in the church when Christ died for us all (1John 3:10-18; 4:7-21)? How could there be any hint of racism among brothers and sisters in Christ when God sees no distinctions (Gal. 3:26-28)? Truly, hatred has no place within hearts that are to be governed by the love of Christ.
Ignorance does not belong in the Lordís church. God said that His people under the new covenant "will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ĎKnow the LORD,í for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of themĒ (Jer. 31:34). This is how it should be within the Lordís church, for God "has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godlinessĒ through Christ (2Pet. 1:3). Godís word is complete in the Bible so that there is no reason or excuse for any Christian to be ignorant of God or of His will. In the past, Godís people have been destroyed because of a lack of knowledge (Hos. 4:6), so we know that ignorance within the church will have devastating effects.
Laziness does not belong in the Lordís church. The hope of the resurrection should motivate every member of the church to be busy in the work of the Lord. Notice 1Corinthians 15:58 Ė "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.Ē Between spreading the gospel to lost souls in the world and ministering to fellow Christians, there is more than enough work to keep all of us busy. Besides these works, there are the works of worship, prayer, study, service to family, service to neighbors, and much more. Christians who will not carry their share of the burden place undue burdens on others and ultimately hinder the progress of the gospel. Therefore, let us be "not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the LordĒ (Rom. 12:11).
Apathy does not belong in the Lordís church. Apathy or indifference is a careless, unconcerned attitude. An indifferent person does not actively oppose or support a given cause, but instead he simply does not care about it. Apathy is closely related to laziness because it easier not to care than to care and be actively involved. How can any Christian not care about the church that Christ purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28)? When the church at Laodicea became apathetic toward the Lordís cause, Jesus told them, "I will spit you out of My mouthĒ (Rev. 3:15-16). Such carelessness within a congregation will lead the Lord to reject it.
Certainly, there are many other things that do not belong in the Lordís church (disbelief, division, false teaching, worldliness, adultery, denominationalism, etc.), but let us draw our lesson to a close now with a question: Why do these things exist in the church at various places and at various levels? The answer is that these things get into the Lordís church only when we put them there, and they will not be gone until we remove them. If we allow any of these to abide within ourselves and within in the church, then we can expect to among the tares that the Lord will gather and burn at the Judgment (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43). Instead, let us cast off any wicked ways from ourselves so that the church might have "no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blamelessĒ through the blood of Christ (Eph. 5:27).
Stacey E. Durham
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