On the advice of one of my fellow bloggers I am submitting the following comment, which I made on her blog, as a post on my own. A precious sister in Christ, Chrysalis, asked us to describe our ideal church. Below you will find my reply
I'm not sure that I can tell you what my ideal church is but I do know what it isn't.
It isn't a big building that costs a lot of money where the only people allowed to come are ones dressed in expensive clothes that are deemed "appropriate" by some committee.
It isn't carpeted with $35 a square foot carpet so that those who have no shoes and dirty feet are not allowed to enter in and worship.
It isn't decked out with stained glass windows that are so expensive that no help is available for the local homeless people.
It isn't pastored by a shepard whose salary is so high that the local poor cannot be helped to pay their utilities to have running water, electrity to run their refrigerator, etc.
It isn't pastored by a shepard that requires a parsonage so grand that the local poor cannot be helped with food to put on their tables for themselves and their children.
It isn't pastored by a shepard that drives a big fine new car every year and wears tailor made clothes while there are people in his town who go around without decent clothes and no coats during the winter.
I guess I don't think of the church as a place at all. I am the church. You are the church. We, the Christian people are the Church. We are the Bride of Christ and we are to fellowship and do the work of God, not build buildings to meet in.
The Bible says "where two are more are gathered together" He is in the midst of them. Well, He is here, on the internet with us, because we are gathering together here. And we are fellowshipping here. So I guess we are "a church"!
Saturday, June 19, 2010
My favorite translation of 1 Corinthians 13 is from the first version of the Living Bible from back in the '70's. It is read in a song that was recorded at Explo' '72 that was held in Dallas, Texas. I still have a copy of that album and have that song on my computer as well. It is called "Love Song" by the band Love Song.
One of the reasons I love this translation so very much is because of its wording for verses 4-7 which are a description of agape or the love of God which is what we as Christians are to have for others.
It goes like this: "Love is very patient and kind. Never jealous or envious. Never boastful or proud. Never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand it's own way. It is not irratable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice. But rather rejoices whenever the truth wins out. If you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him. You will always expect the best of him. And always stand your ground in defending him."
Verse 8 tells us that this love goes on forever. It will never fail.
How very different than man's definition of love, for man considers love to be something that comes and goes like the seasons, passing in and out of one's life multiple times. But true love is eternal like God himself.
How often I have been accused of wanting to control those that I love. Wanting to run their lives for them. But the fact is that I love them enough that I expect the best of them. The truth is that I love them enough to want them to do what is right, to live righteously. As a Christian this is the only love, the best love I can give to anyone.
Jesus said in John 14:15 "If ye love me, keep my commandments." and in John 14:21"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."
So the two go hand in hand. True love comes only with obedience to the will of God or righteousness. One cannot live in habitual sin and be indwelt by the love of God. When one has found and accepted the salvation offered by the grace of God through Christ they become a new being and the old man is cast off along with the old sin life. It can be no other way. This is the love that I want for those I love, the love I have for them, the love that God has for them, the love of all loves.
How very difficult it is to be estranged from those you love the most. It breaks ones heart to go for weeks, months even years without any real communication from ones children. This has been my situation with my children for some time now. The problem with my oldest child stems from their belief that, as a Christian, I am unloving and intolerant. They feel this way about all Christians.
What I have not been able to make my child understand is that Christian love is what makes them intolerant. Jesus himself teaches us in Matthew 5:27-30 "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." In other words, it is better not to tolerate even a part of ones body that causes one to sin than to allow it to remain and send one to eternal damnation.
As a Christian, I love people. But that does not mean that I love the sins that they commit. It does not mean that I condone their sin. It does not mean that I need tolerate their sin. It does not mean that I must accept their sin. In fact, I must do just the opposite, for because I love them I want for them the thing that I have, salvation and the bright hope of eternal life with Christ and God the Father. And I know that habitual sin will prevent them from having those things. Yes, it is my love for them that makes me intolerant. And little do those who claim to love and yet who are shouting that we must be tolerant know that it is they who do not love. For true love can not be tolerant, for tolerance leads to eternal damnation.