February 11, 2012

Christianity & The Bible: Perfect Quality System III - Correcting Non-Conformities

Sometimes a church  looses its way and it is hard to get it back on course. The Bible calls us to corrective actions otherwise...

"...other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away." ~Matthew 13:5-6

I think what I found most surprising when doing this post is my research. I went on the internet and looked for what others felt were the corrective actions for fixing a church that has "turned to the right or the left" (Proverbs 4:27) and almost all of them made suggestions for corrective action that were devoid of Scriptural support! Dude! That makes me batty! Many made statements like: "The church must maintain its relevance...blah blah blah" or worse...they stated that we need to, "make sure the muffin and coffee table are in an accessible and user-friendly position." Still more said things reductio ad absurdum like: "We need to focus inwardly..." or make a priority of "comfort". Whaaaa? Will someone please show me in the Bible where it says this? Please..anyone. This builds Christians in their walk with Jesus Christ how?

The Bible tells us nearly the opposite:

Luke 9:23 ~"Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."

Philippians 1:27-29 ~"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one [not alone inwardly] for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

First and foremost we need "to preach the Gospel"! εὐαγγελίζεσθαι !!! Once we get this down, then we can move forward tentatively with additional corrective actions. The first thing we should be doing is rooting out and disposing of the underlying sinful mindsets. The Bible is clear that our actions have their impetus in out thought world. Where the mind leads the body will most assuredly follow.

Matthew 5:21-22~ “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment." But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.

Matthew 5:27-28~ "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery." But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

...and so on.

The Corrective Action in a Non-Conforming Church

Reorientation to a Biblical Standard

  1. If there is either a reluctance or unwillingness to at least enforce or maintain a minimum behavioral or quality standard in a congregation there is a problem with sin or influence of iniquity already within the Body whether it be in thought or action.
  2. For example: If there is a problem with quality of output in terms of marriages, sexual propriety/impropriety or immorality the root cause of these sins will also be sexual or relational in nature.
  3. The end result will often be leadership wondering by leadership why output quality (marriages, sexual propriety/impropriety or immorality) is not up to or down to expected levels respectively at the point of measurement.
    • Marriages
    • Discipleship
    • Spiritual Life
  1. We as a church must delineate what we are by defining what we are according to a biblical standard. If we maintain or allow the standards of the world or culture wholesale through the front door of the church if not by the laity, then by the leadership itself sometimes we will become the culture. Even precursory review of the culture can see that the culture seriously messed-up. It is messed up becuase:
    • It has abandoned God and the Bible.
    • It therefore has no absolute moral benchmark or absolute measure of Truth
      • If we reject Bible truth, we reject God because God is Truth.
        • I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life ~John 14:6
      • Therefore mankind makes its own benchmark and it is based in human logic and human reason which is a recipe for disaster and further apostasy (fall away from God).
      • We've seen all throughout the Bible the endgame of man putting himself in the place of God.
        • Thou shalt have no other God's before Me....Exodus 20:3
      • Failure to obey this incurs judgment and curses of Deuteronomy 28.
  2. If we rarely (perhaps never) check some of the sins at the door and we wonder why the church appears to be stagnating relationally both in marriages and with covenant with God
    • The church therefore becomes the same or indistinguishable from the outside.
    • This is a problem because it is a non-conformity to a Godly standard outlined in Scripture
    • We are expected to change after we have entered the Faith.
    • "Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Do or Act
  1. We as a church must delineate what we are. Are we running a church or running a business or a business running a church? We can use ideas from the business world to help our churches as long as they align perfectly with the Bible but we cannot run our churches as businesses! (Take that Rick Warren :) We can't have our cake and eat it too. No man can serve two masters. "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Matthew 6:24
  2. We must start with a basic minimum expectation of behavior.
  3. If we were running a business which many evangelical church models are based on, then, just like every other business in the world, implement a minimum standard level of Human Resource quality by enforcing a...
    • Dress Code
    • Minimum Acceptable Behavior standard
    • Make proper interpretation of Bible the benchmark
      • First, assure that leadership (and their spouses ,as they are de facto leaders) have a correct view of Scripture.
      • Second, Assure through aforementioned biblical leadership that laity have a correct view of Scripture
    • Implement Biblical training and education where necessary to improve the minimum level of sanctification and holiness.
  4. If were running a church then implement a minimum level of holiness to allow for productive environment for a minimum level of sanctification.
    • Dress Code
    • Minimum Acceptable Behavior standard
    • Make proper interpretation of Bible as the benchmark
      • First, assure that leadership (and their spouses ,as they are de facto leaders) have a correct view of Scripture
      • Second, Assure through aforementioned biblical leadership that laity have a correct view of Scripture
    • Implement Biblical training and education where necessary to improve the minimum level of sanctification and holiness.
  5. Either way, business or church, both demand a minimum level of quality for them to function at even a nominal or "functional" level.
  6. Why do we need that minimum standard? Is it a "work"? NO!
    • "Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall." ~1 Corinthians 8:13
    • "Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God" ~ 1 Corinthians 10:32
    • "And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea." ~Mark 9:42
    • "It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall." ~Romans 14:21
Check Again
  1. If not, you just have a broken business/church with little or no acceptable cut-off or standards.
  2. Therefore they're just like everyone else.
  3. Therefore they are the culture. That my friends...isn't biblical
A Control Group of Criteria
  1. No true believer would intentionally set a snare in order to cause confusion for those who seek the Lord.
  2. No true believer would intentionally lead a fellow Christian away from truth.
  3. No true believer would intentionally lead their children to rebel against God and not believe and obey the Bible.
  4. No true believer, wife or husband would deliberately do things to cause their spouse to fall
  5. No true believer would deliberately, intentionally and openly sin against God in front of another believer without conscience.
Check Again and Again and Again and....

We need to continue to consult the Scripture until we die. Over and over and over and over ad nauseum if need be. None of us are good enough to just read it a few times and walk away. This is where many churches and leadership stop either willingly or because they have reached a point of denial. By this I mean that leadership believes they have finally "made it" or they begin to become pharisaic and start answering to their own standard therefore abandoning Scripture. They believe they "know" Scripture as well as they should and therefore no longer consult it. This is no different than apostasy as we, in our depraved sinful nature begin to think or say, "Oh, the Bible says this when I read it ten years ago...". What did Jesus say? "It is written..." He always consulted the Bible directly. Believe me, I serious doubt Jesus forgot Scripture or twisted it. Jesus was the WORD! He said this as a model or benchmark for our behavior!

  1. We are called to be different and we are to hold ourselves to a higher level of holiness quality
    • For God has not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness. 1 Thessalonians 4:7
    • Without holiness, no one will see the Lord. Hebrew 12:14
    • As he who has called you is holy, so you be holy in all manner of conduct. 1 Pet 1:1
    • 1 Peter 1:15-16~ "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Humans set up organizations and institutions but they nearly always take on a life of their own and it then seems as if these institutions run the people rather than the other way around. That is because institutions and organizations that have their inceptions in humans are unequivically of this world and are therefore subject to the powers and principalities of this world (Ephesians 6:12)...which are not of God at all. This is just the opposite for the Church which has its inception in Jesus Christ and the Gospel. Having said this, if the church has its inception in a business model it therefore is not of God per se , is it? We tread and extremely thin line and it revolves around heart intent and vigilant adherence to the Bible and God. Incorporating ideas into the church that align to the standards of the Bible is fine but aligning corporate standards to the Church that are not absolutely and perfectly congruent with Biblical teaching is not. God and people have an ethos, insitutions do not. Institutions have a high probabilty of becoming idols. Although the Law and the Temple were meant for man's own good, man was still able in his depraved and fallen nature to even mess up the divine created Law and Temple by misappropriating it and making it an idol.  We saw this with the Jews and the Temple right before the Babylonian Exile. The Jews took for granted they had the Law and the Temple therefore assuming God was on their side...so God took the Temple (and to a greater of lesser extent the Law) away by sending them into exile. This is why we now are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. There are no longer "brick and morters" to become idols or at least there shouldn't be. But even then...even our relationship with God, when it becomes a "religion" can potentially become idol-like. We must always return to the Word...to the Gospel. Over and over: Plan-Do-Check-Act, Plan-Do-Check-Act, Plan-Do-Check-Act, Plan-Do-Check-Act...

In closing I will state this: Although it isn't explicitly stated in this post, it is most certainly implied. This must all be done in love and with a firm hand. Tough love when necessary. Tough love means telling people the truth...even when the truth hurts. If I didn't love people, I would lie to them and soften the edges. There is no room in this world for a watered-down Gospel. When you are telling the truth of God there is no such thing as not delivering the truth in love because God's truth is love! Also, through all of this including the consultation of Scripture we should be praying. Taking our issue right to the throne of God. It is a double-check system to assure that we are in alignment with God's overall plan for holiness. We have the Word and we have the relationship. It is an airtight process to sanctify us as we adhere to Him...(dare I say it)...religiously, with devotion and conviction. ;)

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