SKYE JETHANI ON THE MASS EXIT FROM THE CHURCH

KINGDOM NEIGHBORS

by Steve Dunn

Maybe I am naive, but I take seriously the words of Paul to the Corinthians.

“12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many …  25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” ( I Corinthians 12:12-14, 25-26)

I believe that individual congregations are part of that Body called the church. That means each church has a part in the kingdom plan of our Heavenly Father. We are not programmatic competitors nor doctrinal adversaries. We are partners in the work of Kingdom, but more than that, we are interdependent parts who really need one another.  And we need to exhibit far more concern for the health and well-being of one another.

When congregations flounder in problems or are weakened by conflicts, what is our response? Do we pray for them or do we sit back and watch and then scoop up their losses to swell our numbers and increase our statistics (or staff our Sunday School since we have already burned out the teachers we had)?

Do we offer to help our sister congregations regain their unity and health?

Or do we simply continue to “grow” by rearranging the current kingdom population instead of focusing together on the lost and the unchurched?

NOT JUST WISE WORDS BUT WISDOM PERSONIFIED

One of the blogs I subscribe to is  called CALM-IN-THE-CHAOTIC.  Written by a young woman from Great Britain named Rebekah, she states her purpose as: “The purpose of this blog is to explore, along with my readers, what it means to find calm in a world full of chaos, by looking into biblical truths using music and poetry as a stimulus.”  This past Saturday evening, having put my Sunday morning message to bed I was doing some on-line reading and delved into her archives.  This post spoke to me powerfully. – Steve

 

Not Just Wise Words But Wisdom Personified

November 15, 2011
Proverbs2Again, I have forsaken my first love — poetry that is. So, to make up for it, here’s a section from Proverbs, the kind of poetry which is edifying because it is the very Word of God. It is, as Paul writes, God-breathed*. Proverbs was written by Solomon (the son of King David, the poet-king) and is known as wisdom poetry.

Here is an example of Solomon’s poetic skill in the use of idiosyncratic personification to characterise wisdom and folly:

Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn out its seven pillars.

She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
She has sent out her maids, and she calls
from the highest point of the city.
“Let all who are simple come in here!”
she says to those who lack judgment.
“Come, eat my food
and drink the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways and you will live;
walk in the way of understanding.

Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult;
whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse.
Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you;
rebuke a wise man and he will love you.
Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still;
teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For through me your days will be many,
and years will be added to your life.
If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.”

The woman Folly is loud;
she is undisciplined and without knowledge.
She sits at the door of her house,
on a seat at the highest point of the city,
calling out to those who pass by,
who go straight on their way.
“Let all who are simple come in here!”
she says to those who lack judgment.
“Stolen water is sweet;
food eaten in secret is delicious!”
But little do they know that the dead are there,
that her guests are in the depths of the grave. ~ Proverbs 9 

The end of this chapter is sobering. The foolish (literally: morally deficient, which, if we’re honest, is characteristic of mankind at its core) end up in the grave. As Glenn Scrivener says, “We are spiritually foolish” as “a fool is just a person who trusts in themselves – who relies on their own strength, their own decision making, their own plotting and planning and strategising to make life work.  If you rely on yourself to get through life and not on Jesus Christ, the Bible would say you’re a fool.” The last sentence in the Proverbs passage reminds me of Paul’s words in Romans: “The wages of sin is death…” Thankfully the sentence doesn’t end there. It is followed by a life-changing but:

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

“So we can make wise choices if we belong to Jesus Christ because He is Wisdom and we become wise in relationship with Him… It’s not ‘make right choices so you become a right person’ – it’s ‘become a right person in Jesus Christ. Then you’ll start to make right choices.’” (Glen Scrivener)

For a full explanation of this rich passage from Proverbs, I would highly recommend Glen Scrivener’s insightful talk on guidance (click on the link to listen).

* “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

TO READ MORE FROM THIS BLOG GO TO CALM …