Monday, August 27, 2007

The Church’s Direction and Enablement

Key Verse: Eph. 4:14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, (the rolling of the dice; experimentation), by craftiness in deceitful schemes (rationalizations)

Too many churches and too many times, we (and people like us) have resorted to experimentation (or imitation of the experiments of others) that is a pragmatic attempt to find what works as opposed to a determination to follow the Spirit’s leading. We also can hide behind an approach that elevates human reason. This may be an excuse to retreat into a dead but comfortable traditionalism, which also is not responsive to the Spirit’s leading. The following verses include warnings and determinations which apply to this subject. I have underlined phrases that should prompt reflection.

2Cor. 11:3
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

2Cor. 4:2
But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

1Cor. 3:19
For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,”

Paul’s selection of images in Ephesians offer further food for thought. As a local assembly, we must seek proper alignment with the Cornerstone (Eph 2:20-22). Only the Spirit can create the environment where this proper alignment is achieved. Also, the Body is to live and move in coordination with the Head (Eph 4:15-16). Again, only the Spirit can coordinate proper expression.

The Church’s Direction and Enablement are ultimately from Christ, through the Spirit. Our seeking of Christ’s direction and enablement through the Spirit are pursued, not through the imitation of the church-down-the-street’s latest experimentations, and not by an independent reliance on our own good sense, - but through careful attention to Scripture (Job 23:8-14), and through the practice of prayer (cf prayer in Acts).

The texts mentioned above are highly instructive. Job is poetic, and powerful. You can read it yourself. I provided a sheet with all the references to prayer in the Book of Acts. It is a very easy search to do – but a more difficult practice to follow.

If we are to commit to a) Scripture-attentiveness and b) prayer-practice, then we must set aside significant and quality times for these activities. They need not be whole-congregational, but small-groupish, in order that they can be conversational. The emphasis in these gatherings is to seek the Spirit’s direction and enablement.

The need for these kinds of activities is not an argument for a rejection of preaching and teaching. We actually need more teaching and better preaching. But the activities mentioned above allow the congregation in smaller units to respond to preaching and teaching, in conjunction with reflection and listening.

1 comment:

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