Friday, November 03, 2006

Old or New?

The involvement of the church in American politics is just another indication of the church's Old Covenant mentality. Under that covenant, God moved primarily through a political state - Israel. Throughout the Old Testament, one sees God dealing with the state of Israel in its relation to God, and other nations in their relation to Israel.
However, under the New Covenant, the issue becomes the kingdom of God, which is not of this world, and the chief representative of that kingdom, the church, though being in the world, is not of the world. Nowhere in the New Testament do we see God dealing with political states, only the church. Thus the New Testament reveals a shift with God instituting a New Covenant whereby he writes his law on the hearts of men instead of legislating it through political means.
Jesus was pressured by people to get involved in the politics of the day, but he refused to yield to their demands. His mission was to initiate and establish a kingdom that transcends all the political kingdoms of this world. Yet today, his church has departed from him, becoming heavily involved in the politics of our day. We have reverted back to the Old Covenant, which is obsolete, thus making the political activity of the church obsolete as well. And we wonder why we're not successful.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Perspective to Consider

The predominant perspective in the church here in the U.S. is the American perspective. There is a lot of praying and preaching focused on getting America back to biblical standards, i.e. prayer in the public schools, abortion outlawed, and an overall acceptance and practice of the "Christian way of life." Coupled with this is the proclamation that God is going to continue to use America to bring forth righteousness and justice in the earth, blessing this country in increasing measure.
It appears that we have substituted America for the kingdom of God. Isn't the church to be about the advancement of the kingdom, not the advancement of a political nation of this world? Are we expending all this energy to restore America while God might have already given America over to its depravity (Romans 1:18-32)?
Taking into consideration that the church is the New Covenant equivalent to Israel under the Old Covenant, we might learn from Israel's experience. Israel was enslaved in the Egyptian culture, but God said he gave Egypt as a ransom for Israel (Isaiah 43:3). Could God now be about to give America as a ransom to set the church free from the American culture to which it has been enslaved?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Who Do You Trust?

With the general election less than a week away here in the U.S., I'm really questioning just how much I can participate in the voting process. I have always maintained that everyone needs to get out and vote. I still believe that. Yet, this year there will be certain races that I feel uncomfortable voting for any candidate.
More and more I'm seeing a dichotomy between the kingdom of God and the candidates running for office, regardless of the party they represent. My vote has gone to those most closely aligned with the principles of the kingdom of God. However, I'm really not satisfied with that anymore, being that there seems to be just as much unkingdom baggage with a candidate as there is kingdom.
Though it's all hypothetical, I wonder if the Roman Empire would have been a democratic republic, and the emperor would be voted in by the people, would Jesus have voted. Would he have voted, given the opportunity, for lower positions such as the governor, which was Pilate's office? Would he have voted for the likes of a Pilate, or a Herod, or a Claudius? Would Jesus participate in the choosing of civil government officials? I wonder about this, especially in light of the fact that he did not comment on the present civil government policy even though it was corrupt and oppressive.
It seems that under the democratic process, we have a tendency to put our trust in men to solve our problems and lead us into a better life.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


The koinonia that the Scriptures speak of the church moving in is for the most part absent today. This community or fellowship of the Holy Spirit has been structured out of the church. Fellowship is literally sharing in common. Yet we have so structured the church that there is little opportunity for that to take place. The freedom whereby all have the opportunity to share is mostly foreign to us. Our gatherings are strictly regulated, designed whereby only one, or several at the most, do the sharing while everybody else is expected to sit quietly and listen.
The Scriptures clearly reveal that Christ fills his body, the church, with the fullness of himself. Yet we prohibit his fullness from being experienced when we gather by restricting the freedom of koinonia.
The removal of freedom kills community. The very essence of who God's people are called to be, a community, has been eliminated by our man made structures. A radical structural change is required if community is to be recovered.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Discipline and Legalism

There has been a common mantra that is heard any time a regimen designed to produce maturity is mentioned - "That's too legalistic!" There has been an inability, to a large degree, within the church, to distinguish between legalism and discipline.
Due to our fear of being legalistic, or trapped in a legalistic system, we shun any kind of regimen, thus hindering ourselves in our growth toward spiritual maturity. So we continue in our undisciplined lifestyles, wondering why we seem to be making so little progress.
A simple word study reveals that the word "legalism" is derived from "legal" which is from the Latin word for law. The word "discipline" is from the Latin word meaning "to learn." It's noteworthy that the word "disciple," is from the same Latin word as "discipline."
With this in mind, legalism has to do with keeping a law, usually enforced by man. This originates from the outside. On the other hand, discipline is a learning process that originates from within the individual. Legalism is a man-made code demanding conformity. Spiritual discipline is a learning process where one is being transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus, thus making him/her a disciple.
In much of the church today, there is neither legalism nor discipline. The result has been a vacuum into which has rushed the ungodly mentality of Judges 21:25 - everyone doing what is right in his own eyes. This is postmodernism run amuck.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Of Structures, Babies and Discipline

The church as we have known it is structured to perpetuate infancy in the believer. We create programs to meet the needs of the church members, rather than designing the ministry in such a way that would require them to become involved in active service to others. Worship services are designed so that people don't have to expend any energy but to just come and be spoon fed whatever is on the menu for that particular day. Most "churchgoers" go day after day, week after week, and year after year without any personal interaction with anyone concerning their spiritual well-being. Thus we see the divorce rate in the church equaling and surpassing the national divorce statistics. The problems of sexual immorality in the church is not much different than what is found outside the church, except for the fact that we keep it hidden better. The love of money is not absent either.
This is not to say that there wouldn't be problems if the church was structured for maturity. But the problems would be far less than the rampant problems we now have. Babies, of course, need everything done for them. But as they mature, they learn to do things for themselves as their parents train them with the discipline that shapes and fashions them into the kind of individuals God created them to be. Where is the parental discipline in the church that raises spiritual babies to maturity? Of course, when the desire is to keep the children dependent so that they have to come to us to be fed and nourished, there won't be any effort to create structures that would bring them to maturity.

Friday, October 27, 2006


This morning I was reading Hebrews 12, taking special note of that portion of the chapter that deals specifically with discipline. I recognize that I'm not a highly disciplined person, so this Scripture has special significance to me.
Human nature just naturally gravitates toward the path of least resistance. The natural desire is for comfort and pleasure, steering clear, if possible, of anything that would interrupt that state. I've discovered that most of us want the end result of discipline, but we're either unwilling or lack the endurance to go through the process of discipline to get it.
Spiritual discipline is no different. We're told that discipline produces the peaceful fruit of righteousness, enabling us to share in God's holiness (Hebrews 12:10,11). By this definition of discipline's results, we in the western church have a long way to go. When it is difficult to tell the difference between the lifestyles of those who profess to follow Christ and those who don't, it becomes obvious that there is a lack of spiritual discipline.
I believe the American obesity problem that we've been hearing so much about in the news is indicative of the spiritual condition of the American church. We are fat and out of shape, unable to be the lean, mean, fighting machine against the kingdom of darkness that Jesus intends his church to be. Discipline is sorely needed in the church.

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