"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Can God cause divisions to grow the church? Or does He allow it (because we are all sinners, live in a broken world, etc. etc.) and then redeem it?
A few types of church divisions:

-One is a natural division that arises when we try to understand what it is God’s Word says. We aren’t perfect; we can’t know His Word perfectly. But what we do with those natural divisions is how those divisions will later be judged. This may mean a body splitting to focus on different things (more missional churches, more evangelistic, more discipleship, infant/believer baptism, gifts of the Spirit-you name it; it’s probably caused a church spit somewhere!)

-Divisions based on size. This may be that a church just doesn’t want to get over a certain size to maintain the community feel-when they get to a number, say 100, they split and start another church.

-One is brought on from our own selfishness. We have already posted various things about leading and following in a church body. When we step out of the authority of those we’ve elected to lead us, some things can get pretty hairy-dangerous even (in the spiritual sense). Equally dangerous of course, are leaders who don’t appreciate, listen and respond to the body who has elected them. Unless we have just cause and reason, we are really stepping out of God’s authority. Of course, those leaders themselves need to be in line with God’s authority as well. And as we are all human, there will be times when they step out too and then we as a body need to go to them in love and bring them back in line with God’s word (Matthew 18). Just because you are a church leader obviously does not mean you are immune from sin.
And yes, leaders will be held to a higher standard. And WE are also judged for their obedience. Daniel, Shadrach, Mishek & Abednego and all the other Israelites were in captivity because of the disobedience of their king. Okay, yes their own sins too; but not all the Israelites were turning from God, refusing to repent-but they were all in captivity because of those rulers not repenting when called to.
Daniel, Shadrach, Mishek & Abednego’s disobedience to man (King Neb) was obedience to God. How often are we looked at as “rebellious” when we don’t blindly follow where our leaders tell us to go? Do what they tell us to do? We are still ultimately responsible for our own obedience. And then to the obedience of those that we have placed ourselves under the authority of. So we need to be VERY careful of who we put ourselves under. Does it not often seem that the U.S. is blessed or cursed based on the decisions of our government as well?

But what does that mean in the national sense? We pray for our leaders, we can call them to obedience to God, we can be the watchman and the voice of warning and repentance; but we can’t just leave the country. It really doesn’t work that way (despite what some movie stars want to say and do!). That realization should make us cry out all the more for our country and our leaders. I know I personally haven’t been doing that-but haven’t really thought or realized all this until recently.

This translates down to our work areas. And is one of the reasons we were back from Africa when we were.

And it most definitely translates in our Christian walk. There are many leaders in a church-small group leaders, pastors, elders, and committee leaders, whatever. And ultimately we are all under God’s authority, I am not addressing that. What I want us to think about is what it means to be under the authority of someone and the responsibilities therein. Both for those leading and those following. Above our “hierarchy” of leadership (unfortunately that is the structure of most church leadership today), we are still all brothers and sisters in Christ. As such, we are called to rebuke, correct, teach, and admonish each other. The greatest commandment is to love God, secondly your neighbor as yourself. So any and all of those above things must be done in love. But hear this: IT. MUST. BE. DONE. And if it isn’t, there is bound to be a church split. It may not be a formal-people leaving split, but there is a split in mind, soul, spirit, purpose, unity …

SO…does God cause that some times in the church? (Yes, He does cause some things that don’t make sense to us at the time-HE said HE was going to be the one to harden Pharaoh’s heart) Or does He allow us to get ourselves into those predicaments and then use them?

Maybe the question is: does it matter? If the chief end of all man is to glorify God, I think we all need to work in our circumstances every day to do just that! And that will include doing the hard stuff too.

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