GOD Cares

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic


I've gone to church all my life. I stopped when I reached the age of a teenager until young adulthood. I noticed my life circling the drain many times but, I was not going to give power to that
which I could not see. I felt that I was the one responsible and thus, the one final answer to my many questions of success or failure. I believe in a higher power. I call that Higher Power, GOD. I
know that the church of today has many steps yet to take before it reaches the success it requires and seeks. My introspect is mine alone and you don't have to agree.

Submitted: January 04, 2018

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Submitted: January 04, 2018

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God cares especially for those who can’t help themselves – the poor and needy, the forgotten and helpless.  Jesus demonstrated in His ministry a deep compassion for the suffering and forgotten.  He fed the hunger, healed the lame, and gave sight to the blind.  He was concerned not only with saving man from hell in the next world, but delivering him from the hellishness of this one! 

Then He describes the final judgment before the throne of The LORD where with a wave of His hand the righteous and unrighteous will be separated.  With terrifying finality, Jesus says, the unrighteous will hear God’s final judgment:  “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”

This is not hellfire and brimstone evangelism.  This is justice.  And, yes, this is love as well.  God loves us so much that He holds us accountable; for by judging us according to how well we live out His Holy standards of justice and righteousness.  He ascribes meaning to our daily actions.  He ensures that what we do matters.

So Christianity is not just a high-sounding ritual we perform on Sunday mornings.  Christianity is abiding by biblical standards of personal holiness and in turn seeking to bring holiness into the society in which we live.  And that’s why Jesus calls us “salt” and “light”.  It is what He meant in the magnificent words of the Sermon on the Mount: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness:. (too many Christians glibly quote the first part of the verse, “seek ye first the kingdom of God,” forgetting the demanding command to which Jesus gives equal emphasis, AND His righteousness.”

The path of personal holiness can be a tough one, but hacking out a holy pathway in society brings us face to face with the cost of discipleship.  It means making moral judgments by God’s standards not man’s.  Because something is legal does not make it right.  Nor can the will of the majority be confused with the will of God.  They may be very different; in fact, they often are.  When we as Christians start demanding these things, these standards from our community, the community labels us as radicals.

The word “radical” comes from the Latin “radix” meaning, “the root” or the “fundamental”.  So it simply means going back to the original source or “getting to the root of things”.  Indeed, in a world where values are being shaped by the fleeting fantasies of secular humanism, it is radical to stand for the fundamental truth of God, to go to the “root”, the Word of God.  Radical holiness can be defined as John Wesley said in a speech from Oxford at St. Mary’s when he denounced his Oxford faculty members, “making an open stand against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness, which overspreads our land as a flood, is one of the noblest ways of confessing Christ in the face of His enemies.  “Contra Mundum”.  Against the world.  Radicals.

Radical stands do, however, lead us into the briar patch of thorny questions about the Christian’s role.  First comes the issue of civil disobedience.  When civil laws directly conflicts God’s law, are we to disobey the government?  No.  But to resolve it requires understanding a major biblical purpose of government.  The origin of government goes back to humanity’s first sin, when to keep rebellious Adam and Eve away from the Tree of Life, God stationed an angel with flaming sword at the entrance to the Garden; this was the first cop!  (Genesis 3:24).

The second thorny question is whether men and women who seek to be faithful to Christ can serve in public office.  Yes.  For if Christ is not only truth, but THE truth of life and all creation, then Christians belong in the political arena, just as they belong in all legitimate fields and activities, that “the blessings of God might show forth in every area of life.” 

Can Christians be vigorous advocates for justice and morality without destroying the separation of church and state?  The key to answering this question is to understand that the Christian’s goal is not power, but justice.  We are to seek to make the institutions of power just, without being corrupted by the process necessary to do this.  It requires a delicate balance, and Deity is our role model. 

All my life I sought drugs, women and money because they were the keys – or so I thought – to security and power.  I was influenced by parents worrying whether there would be enough money for food and rent.  I believed with determination and hard work I could make it to the top.  Money and dope were the keys to the kingdom where I could lock the door against want, fear and insecurity.  Locked up for months, I saw His vision.  As I sat in jail, surrounded by such despair and suffering that I began to see through the eyes of the powerless.  I began to understand why God views society not through the princes of power, but through the eyes of the sick and needy, the oppressed and downtrodden.  I began to realize why in demanding justice God spoke not through easily corrupted kings, but through peasant prophets who in their own powerlessness could see and communicate God’s perspective.  For only in the breakdown of my own worldly power did I see what power is, what it had done to me, and what it had done through me to others.  I learned that power did not equal justice. 

If we love God, we must love His justice and act upon it.  Then, taking a holy, radical stand – “contra mundum” if need be – we surrender the illusion of power and find it replaced by True Power.  Such is the power God’s truth affords one man willing to stand against seemingly hopeless odds.  Such is the power of The Cross.

People consider the church just another institution with its own bureaucracy, run by ministers and priests who, like lawyers and doctors, are members of a profession (though not so well-paid).  And while this parochial institution fulfills a worthwhile social and inspirational function, rather like an arts society or civic club, most people could get along fine without it. 

In many ways, of course, the church has allowed itself to become what the world says it is.  (This seems to be a common human bent – to become what others consider us to be.)  For biblically the church is an organism not an organization – a movement, not a monument.  It is not a part of the community; it is a whole new community.  It is not an orderly gathering; it is a new order with new values, often in sharp conflict with the values of the surrounding society. 

The church does not draw people in; it sends them out.  It does not settle into a comfortable niche, taking its place alongside the Rotary, the Elks, and the country club.  Rather, the church is to make society uncomfortable.  Like yeast, it unsettles the mass around it, changing it from within.  Like salt, it flavors and preserves that into which it vanishes.

But as yeast is made up of many particles and salt composed of multiplied grains, so the church is many individual believers.  For God has given us each other; we do not live the Christian life alone.  We do not love God alone.

To believe Jesus means we follow Him and join what He called the “Kingdom of God” which He said was “at hand”.  This is a new commitment, a new companionship, a new community established by conversion.  It is the first duty of the Christian to make the invisible Kingdom visible.

Can it happen?  Can we be not only a holy people but a holy nation?  Yes, we MUST be.  But to do so require an understanding and practice of certain truths – what might be considered basic principles for the church.

The church is in the home.  So often, our American Churches and parachurch movements grow because of the personality of the pastor or leader.  This pattern is merely another Christian adaptation of the celebrity cultism of our society.  But a charismatic leader is not the secret of the vitality and size of the church.  This raises what I believe is the first principle for the church:  the body of believers called the church is to grow from the inside out in response to The Spirit.  Built that way, the church prevails against anything.  What would happen if your pastor was removed and your church building closed or destroyed?  Most churches are totally dependent on the pastor and church staff.  Some one could say that a Western church is like a pro football game on Sunday afternoon.  100,000 people sitting in the stands watching 22 men knock their brains out on the field.  Take away the 22 and there is no game.

Nowhere in The Bible is the world exhorted to “come to church”.  But the church’s mandate is clear:  she must go to the world.  The work of ministry belongs to the one in the pew, not the one in the pulpit.  So the church comes together on Sunday mornings principally to be prepared to cary out its ministry the rest of the week in every walk of life.

The second principle for the church:  it must equip the laity to take the church into the world.  The believer’s ministry is being  Christ’s person right where he or she is, in the marketplace or the home, every moment of every day.  This is part of the everyday business of holiness.  This is the very nature of loving God. 

The third key principle for the church is spiritual discipline – fervent prayer and serious study of God’s Word.  This is the life or death principle, for churches that neglect The Word and the prayer life quickly wither.  But churches that exercise spiritual discipline can be mightily used.  For the church of Jesus Christ is not American or Korean or English or Dutch.  It is one church, one body, one holy nation transcending man’s arbitrary geographic and political boundaries. 

The fourth key principle:  as one holy nation, we must break free of any provincialism and work for unity in Christ.  The Holy Spirit can break down every barrier.  Thus, what happens in the church on the remotest continent is as important as the life of our local congregation.  The rest of the world is as far away as the nearest fund-starved ghetto church in our town or as close as the underground cell in China.

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.  The great exodus to the suburbs in the last three decades makes this scriptural truth especially urgent in America.  Thriving new middle-class congregations now ring center – city ghettos where the older, almost-abandoned churches are starving to death.  Like an army retreating from the battlefield, prosperous suburban congregations have left the wounded to die in the core of great metropolitan areas – both physically and spiritually!

But the requirement for individual cells within God’s holy nation goes far beyond sharing financial resources; the church is called to give itself, to share in the hunger and pain of those in need.  Jesus Himself shared the pain of the needy; He suffered for the entire world.  As God’s visible presence in the world today, should not His people also participate in the suffering of the world?  Most emphatically, YES.  Not until we go where need is and share in the suffering of the poor, alienated, isolated, and downtrodden will the holy nation of God’s people also become the loving nation. 

Too often, though, the church’s strategy for reaching those who “don’t belong” is exactly backwards.  Priority goes to constructing an attractive edifice in a location near a growing suburb as far from crime-infested downtown as possible.  Next comes the committees organizing concerts, covered-dish suppers, Bible studies, slide shows and the like.  Then, with fresh welcome mat at the door, the members enthusiastically wait for all the lost and needy souls to come and join them.  Of course they never do.  What the church attracts are the neighbors who are bored with their old church anyway, or those looking for a group with a bit more status!

The cultural barriers in our American society are imposing.  Millions live in conditions unimaginable to the typical white middle-classed American congregation.  The family in the ghetto, for example, lives a day at a time, often one welfare check away from disaster; and the odds are it’s a one-parent family with one or more of its members victims of one of the plaques epidemic in America’s inner cities – child abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction or prostitution.

But when the church fails to break the barrier, both sides lose.  Those who need The Gospel message of hope and the reality of love don’t get it; and the isolated church keeps evangelizing the same people over and over until its only mission finally is to entertain itself.

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus didn’t set up an office in the temple and wait for people to come to Him for counselling?  Instead, He went to them – to the homes of the most notorious sinners, to the places where he would most likely encounter the handicapped and sick, the needy, the outcasts of society.  Our presence in a place of need is more powerful than a thousand sermons.  Being there is our witness.  And until we are, our orthodoxy and doctrine are mere words; our liturgies and gospel choruses ring hollow.

Taking The Gospel to people wherever they are – death row, the ghetto, or next door – is frontline evangelism!  Frontline love!  It is our one hope for breaking down barriers and for restoring the sense of community, of caring for one another, which our decadent, impersonalized culture has sucked out of us.  It is the most urgent challenge for the holy nation, the fifth and perhaps most important principle.

Unfortunately, we treat the church as a structure.  But the true church is npot held together by any structure man creates; it is not an organization.  It is alive, its life breathed into it by a sovereign God!  It’s heart beats with God’s heart.  It is one with Him.  And moves as His Spirit moves – where He chooses and often against the designs of man. 

The life function of this living organism is to love the God who created it – to care for others out of obedience to Christ, to heal those who hurt, to take away fear, to restore community, to belong to one another, to proclaim The Good News while living it out.  The church is the invisible made visible. 

Faith is believing and acting – acting in obedience to the commands of Christ – even though you can’t see what’s going to happen.  In the world, when we try to love another and we commit to a relationship, that relationship will have peaks and valleys.  If this commitment is sincere, you will stick it out and grow in learning and loving in a stronger bond.  You promised God something – to commit your life to Him and love and obey Him.  So you do that no matter how you feel.  And the longer and more you do that – obey Him, the you’ll begin to feel your love for Him and His love in return.  The apostle John says, “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments”.  Straightforward, isn’t it?  But you can’t obey them if you don’t know them.  So the place to start is in His Book, The Bible, by studying.

You realize you’re treating The Bible like some magazine just flipping through, reading here and there as impulse moved you.  You wanted spectacular results in your Christian life, but put in thoroughly mediocre effort.  You would have to change or give it up.  Read the Psalms – the entire passage.  You will find these “praise songs” appeal to the mind as well as the heart.

Psalm 82:2-4, “How long will you defend the unjust…? Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.  Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicket.”  You cannot escape the fact that this Scripture said that God condemns those who do not do this.  According to the Psalm, how one treated the poor determined, at least in part, whether one was a righteous person or a wicked one.  Realize The Bible is from God – His Word – and is absolutely true. 

Psalm 37:25, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.  They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.”  The righteous were free to be generous, because their security was in God!

Things change in us.  We find ourselves getting angry at the physical and psychological violence in the world.  You read about unemployed men and women committing suicide, and street crimes, and drug busts and you can’t say “thank God, it has never touched me or mine” anymore.  You are disturbed about it all – and angry.  When you feel these feelings, and commit to involving yourself deeply, then, beware!  Something very special is coming your way.  It usually does at this stage in one’s spiritual growth.  Keep your eyes open.  Read Luke 19.  Not just about Zaechaeus, but the passage where Jesus comments on Jerusalem.  This is after Jesus’ Palm Sunday entry into the city:  “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘if you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes.”  The Father’s anger and the Son’s tears are one.  As you are angry at the world, you understand this is the beginning of seeing the world from God’s perspective.  You’ve always looked at it through the eyes of self-interest, self-preservation.  But God’s point of view demands justice for everyone, for society.

 

 

 


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