This week I feel the need to re-look at something. I am seeing more and more cloudiness in the church instead of a bright and shining light. The church in my generation has become little more than the world with religion. We are going to look at the church’s separation from the world today.
As a young man I was raised in a good home. In my earliest days my mother took us to church. My father stayed home to rest and I remember the day when he started going with us. Even though he had made a commitment to Jesus at and early age he had drifted in life. At that time he was a different man. Soon he recommitted his life toChrist and it made a difference that all of us noticed. He had an anger problem before that was noticeably different. In fact, he changed into one of the kindest men that I know. There was a change in all of our lives at that point.
I don’t know if you realize this but Jesus came to save sinners. The Word explains that all of us have missed the mark, no matter how carefully we aim the bow. The church is now wondering why it is losing its emphasis in the world. A few years back there was a Newsweek magazine with the front cover dedicated to saying that we were no longer aChristian Nation. Inside were articles explaining that professingChristians were declining in number and that the emphasis ofChristianity in politics was going away. That is no big surprise as this is what the media, ACLU, etc have been pushing for years but the real blame lies with us-the church.
That’s right-we are to blame for allowing the world inside the church. How did it all begin? Where did it start? I think it would be simple conjecture to point to a date or event when the church became like the world. But one thing I now know is that we are so much like the world that we will have a difficult time knowing where to start. Remember the earthquake inHaitiand how we saw the pictures on the news? The shambles of piles of concrete and rebar steel could easily leave someone wondering where to start with the cleanup and rebuilding. If you and I went there and argued about reconstruction we would get nothing done. The first thing we need to do is to recognize the mess.
In the church today, we have a mess. For some reason, it’s not that obvious to a lot of people. Let me give you an example. I have a Facebook account and sometimes just scan around looking at friends of friends to see if we have anyone in common. Most of you probably know that it allows you to look at anyone who makes their profile open. While scanning from connection to connection (friend to friend) I saw a plethora of personalities and opinions. I noticed that there was a woman who listed herself as a Conservative Baptist.
What caught my attention was that she was minimally dressed in her picture. I looked further at her profile to read that she described herself as a free spirit who liked to shock others by her spontaneity. She further pointed out that at age forty she had just gotten her first, second and third tattoos. Along with this was a tab of photos. When I clicked this it revealed to all that this (rather large) woman liked to take pictures of herself with a lot of cleavage showing in a spaghetti strap tank top. I asked Angie what was wrong with the picture after showing her that she had claimed to be conservative.
This is why I say we have failed as the church to teach people about separation. If you follow every denomination back to its beginning you will quickly find that they were all based on piety and separation. Each of them had a new revelation or spiritual facet from the Word that others did not have. Each one had discovered new treasure in God’s Word that they focused on and in doing so they all became the Body of Christ. Some denominations were the hands, some the feet, some the backbone and others the legs. As Christ is the head, only in Him did they see, hear and smell what they needed. One denomination that began in 1739 with one of its strongest doctrines being the refraining from alcohol is now known for allowing its members to drink. As I honestly study the Bible today I can easily see how they interpreted the scripture that alcohol is bad. I once belonged to a denomination that, in it’s original written doctrine, forbids going to worldly entertainment. I was shocked to discover this years later because it was never followed by it’s members.
Please listen to me now. I believe that we have failed to look at the Bible in a correct manner when we study because we view it to see what we can “get by with”. Let me put it a second way. If we are looking for what is allowable instead of what is not allowable we will always misinterpret it. Someone who is looking for a loophole in a law, system or person will not have their heart in the right place. In 2nd Corinthians 6:17Paul writes a line that is overlooked today. If you will remember, the church atCorinth was a worldly church. It had aspects ofChristianity but also it allowed what the flesh wanted.
In this particular line Pauldirectly says that God requires His people to choose to separate themselves so that He will receive them. When you look at the Bible as a whole you can easily see that Holiness and Separation are requirements of God’s people.
We don’t like that word “requirement” do we? We’ve been told that all we need to do is say a prayer and start telling people (if they ask) that we areChristians. Just check the box that saysChristian on any application that we fill out. Otherwise, we are told, it’s a done deal. I don’t see this in scripture.
Let’s back up a few lines and start with verse fourteen. We are given the mandate to not yoke ourselves with un-believers. Let me point out that an unbeliever is not someone who says he isn’t a Christian. It is anyone who does not live as a Christian. Why do I say that? Because Jesus warned us that there would be many who come in His name and would deceive (Matthew 24:5). He told us that not everyone who called Him Lord would be saved (Matthew7:21-23). He said that there would be tares among the wheat. Yes-that Parable in Matthew 13:24-30 shows us that there will befalse-Christians sown in withChristians. How do we know the difference?
The tare was probably a weed known as bearded darnel. It looks like wheat until harvest time. At that point the seed husks of the wheat produce what we use for bread. The darnel produces seed for more darnel. The parable lets us know that this would happen (as a result of the enemy and the workers being asleep) and the Master told the servant that it would uproot the real crop to try and pull out the tares. Some would say that there will be no real difference until the end when the Great Day of Judgment arrives. Why, then, would God’s Word tell us repeatedly to separate ourselves from the world?
We must do it ourselves. It is not an automatic thing to happen. If you think that all you have to do is go to church regularly and profess Christianity-all the while during the week you live like everyone one else in your community you have been deceived. Let me ask you this-if you claim to be a Christian, what is different in your life from the rest of the world? I told you the story of my early childhood when my father was changed. I saw the change in him and still do. When you leave this earth, will people remember something about you that let’s them know that something changed in your life? Compare your life to your BC (Before Christ) days. Are you changed? Let me ask you one final question-are there things you now allow in your life that you once thought were wrong? If there are, you have backed up in your spiritual walk.
God does not give us a conviction for something and then later release us from it. We might think that. I know that I did. At one point in my life I was discriminating and chose carefully what I did, thought, allowed, and agreed with. Somewhere in time I was deceived into believing that I was now mature enough to handle these things (things that I once thought as sin). As I stepped into my newfound freedom I walked away from the plan of God and nearly destroyed my family.
The bottom line is that almost no one is making a choice to separate from the world. The attitude is that Jesus died to give us freedom. Just as many Americans have forgotten that freedom isn’t free and comes with responsibility, the church has lost it’s way as well.
Jesus described the church in the Sermon on the Mount. He said that we would be the salt of the earth. He described us as a city on a hill. He said that we would be like a candle. Salt is different things to different people. To some it is pleasant and makes their food better. To others it raises their blood-pressure. It is known as a preservative. At one point in history it was so valuable that it was used as salary (that’s where the word comes from). It burns in an open wound and yet is a disinfectant so with the pain comes healing. A city on a hill is established. It is constant and always there. It is visible a long distance off. You do not need to go into the city to know its there- it is apparent. It has a reputation for some thing or another. The candle is not lit and then covered. Jesus uses the example of lighting one and then covering it. Candles are for giving off light. We light them to see in the dark, to give ambience to meals and for birthdays. But they are worthless if we light them and cover them up.
I am saddened atChristians who go to bars. It would be one thing if they appeared there with a Bible in their hands to share a better life for those who go there for release from their problems. But they are now going there to partake of the same drug that the world uses. The conversations are never about Jesus but about the same things other people discuss there. They discuss sports, travel, and even look for mates in this false-temple. Years ago when we had cable TV I tuned by a country music channel. A singer was explaining that the bar was his church, the beer was for his communion and the bar itself was the altar. How sacrilegious can you get? Do Christians honestly want to be a part of that?
I am still surprised atChristians who pierce and tattoo their bodies. God told His people to not mark their bodies. I am disgusted at the way that pornography is allowed inChristian homes. We once laughed at those who, after being caught reading Playboy Magazine, said they just read it for the articles. Now, there are hundreds of soft-porn magazines on the grocery stand. The front covers have almost undressed women and articles that should make everyone blush. Both men and women buy these and take them home for all of their family to read.
All of this isn’t even touching the core of the problem. These are just signs of an earthquake-not the damage. The damage is there, though. Piles and piles of problems are in the church with thousands of causalities. Families are being broken apart and individual’s lives are slowly being destroyed. Maybe you don’t know where to start or if it’s even too late to do something about all this. It’s not. What we all need to do is to go back to the Word, God’s only Word, the Bible.
Begin your search with things that you now allow in your life and once didn’t. As a start, refer Philippians 4:8 to your entertainment or media experiences. Compare each one with each point in this scripture. Look at where you are on Saturday night next week. Also, look at who you are with. Paulwarned us to not be unequally yoked-remember? If you are friends with someone then you are yoked with them. Go back in time to the day that you were born-again. Were you embarrassed at things that you did up to that point? How about now? Put off what everyone else says and does for a while and look straight to the Word for answers. Even the friends who are weak will lead you astray if you don’t take the lead. God is the only one that you need to listen to. He has given His Word as a roadmap for your life. You won’t get lost getting directions from Him.
How different are you from mainstream society? Is there a great difference? If not, you need to re-evaluate your walk. Perhaps somewhere back you got off the path. Seek His Way in all that you do and you won’t get lost.
Prayer-Father-I thank You for providing a way for Your children to get home. Many are falling away today from the clear distinct life of Believers and are more blended with the world. Forgive us all for our affairs with the world. Instead of joy in the things of this world we want to find the joy ofChrist. Lead us back to the place where we first met You. May each one today check their lives to assure that they are truly following the right road. May the Church be the pure, holy spotless bride that Jesus deserves.
In Jesus’ Name I pray-Amen
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