Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Harp With No Strings?

Sometimes it's important to harp on something!  In years past, my loving wife used to gently warn me that I was speaking about worship being our life rather than one hour on Sunday - too much.  I reached that doctrinal conclusion while in college in the early seventies, preached it as a series in the mid-eighties, and wrote my first book about it then, but couldn't get it published until '91.  Two church of Christ affiliated publishers were very interested - at first - but then decided it was too controversial to risk publishing it.  So Spilt Grape Juice was published by a Christian Church publishing company, who also published three other books of mine.  Anyway, I can't stop preaching about something that for me, and many others, was and is so life changing -  life freeing, and life directing.  Worship is a life given to Jesus!  The Christian assembly was only meant to be a spiritual "pep rally" to help us grow in love for one another and for him.  It is not, and never was meant to be, how we define ourselves as followers of Christ.
Now, having harped on that again, my lesson this past Sunday on Ephesians 1:14-23 reinforced my strong belief that the modern church has (often) missed the simple primary purpose for existing.  As I have pointed out over and over - yes harping - the church has only one purpose and that is maturing member in Christ (Eph.4:11-13).  That simplicity gets lost in "doing church" they way we have traditionally been taught.  Paul's compliments to his brethren in Ephesians 1, I believe, not only points this out, but he tells us the "how" and "why" of what Christian togetherness is all about.  The reason he is so thankful and prayerful for them - the reason for his deep affection for them - is spelled out in two simple statements of purpose:  1) "your faith in the Lord Jesus" and 2) "your love for all the saints."  That is what church is all about.  We are in the faith and love building business!  Paul, like John does in his first epistle, connects our seeking after a deeper relationship with God with our growing in love for one another.  Makes perfect sense!  God is love!  We only know God to the extent we know love!  God gave us a spiritual family to learn how to love!  It's what church does - our should do!
A growing faith and love will cause us all to want to serve, give, and witness to others.  We expect the later but have no idea if we're doing the former.  I think it's logical to assume that if we don't see service, giving, and witnessing, it's probably a good indication of a need to rethink what we do to build faith and love.  I don't say that to complain or point fingers and anyone but me.  It reminds me that I must be about the business of guiding people - one at a time - into a deeper walk with God.  So, I guess I'll be doing a lot more harping - at least to myself if no one else.

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