T H E S I S # 43
As God ministers to others through feeble christians, He likewise ministers through feeble churches. Multitudes benefit from attending an evangelical church. Evangelical churches compare well with non-evangelical churches.
Compared to the angels and compared to what we will soon be, yes, we are feeble. And yet the “head of the church” uses us. Who else does He have?
The angels are sane, the saints up there are sane, and we hover somewhere between sane and…. uh…. unstable. We are half-baked, partially finished, incomplete, and out of square. We are fractured, splintered, unglued, and unbalanced. And yet….
And yet our Lord Jesus Christ entrusted His great commission to us as surely as the eleven. Yes, even though….
Even though we are sometimes grouchy, always touchy, occasionally peeved, and often impatient. We are driven by restlessness, fearful of running out of stuff, and, like Martha, “worried and troubled about many things”. We are self-concerned, self-directed, self-enriching, and self-confident. And yet….
And yet the life of “the Lord of the harvest” flows through us, causing us to bear fruit. Yes, even though….
Even though unbelief outweighs belief, integrity occasionally falters, discouragement finds openings, and learning comes slow. We are sometimes sincere and sometimes not, sometimes reverential and sometimes not, sometimes pleasant and sometimes not. Talking is an addiction, listening is agony, critiquing is fun, and an audience is our joy. And yet….
And yet ‘Christ and I’ are a powerhouse. His power and our submission will get the job done. Yes, even though….
Even though we are slow to share, quick to judge, sluggish with encouragement, and eager to suggest. We binge on knowledge, lack understanding, dodge wisdom, and have need of discernment. We plan more for retirement than the judgment seat of Christ, we diligently lay up “treasures on earth” while slack in bettering our relationship with the One who matters most. And yet….
And yet the Lord Jesus sees fit to include us in the harvesting of souls, and in the reformation of His church. His love for us is equal to our love for Him times a thousand. Yes, even though….
Even though we are perplexed and wounded and confused and insecure. We make mistakes, repeat those mistakes, and repeat them again. We take comfort in our righteousness, remember our generous moments, and forgive ourselves quicker than others. And yet….
And yet “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us”, we are “the light of the world” and “the salt of the earth”. Yes, even though….
Even though we compete, impress, presume and politicize. We major on minors, understate the critical, venerate our opinions, and jealously guard our reputation. And yet….
And yet we bear fruit. Perhaps not much, but some. Some is much better than none.
In spite of ourselves, we have cause to be encouraged. We are not much different than the twelve, and the twelve accomplished much through (and only through) Jesus Christ.
The twelve were sometimes impatient with those who pressed upon the Master, even little children. They found it difficult to unravel the Lord’s parables. They craved an earthly kingdom. More than once they argued about who among them is greatest. They couldn’t understand The Teacher when He spoke in simple terms about His death and resurrection. They were indignant when a woman poured “very costly fragrant oil” on Christ’s head. They were often fearful and unbelieving and bickering. They abandoned their Christ at His darkest hour. Fearful and distraught, they dismissed reports of His foretold resurrection.
The angels were sane, the saints in paradise awaiting their Savior were sane, but the twelve hovered somewhere between sane and…. uh…. unstable.
The Lord Jesus Christ would have us relax in our inadequacy. This is not being frivolous, but trusting. We do not strive to be good but connected. When we finally admit we can’t and lay down our effort, Lord Jesus will take over. He alone can take us from where we are to where we want to be. (It’s a slo-o-o-w pace.)
Many of Christ’s unfinished re-creations gather together every sunday under an evangelical tent. Usually something good happens.
A monkey was placed in a cage and wired in such a way that scientists could measure the monkey’s anxiety level. Then they did mean things to aggravate the poor thing, and sure enough the anxiety level climbed dramatically. Next, they placed another monkey in the cage, and repeated the experiment on monkey number one. The anxiety level was not nearly as acute.
Those monkeys teach us there is strength in togetherness. After a funeral the grieving people gather for lunch and find respite in the chatter and fellowship. There is comfort in fellowship; God made us that way.
God gave Eve to Adam, Aaron to Moses, Ruth to Naomi, Barnabas to Paul, and John to Mary. He sent the apostles two by two. He likewise sent the seventy in pairs. He sent two to make preparations for the Passover meal, and two to fetch the colt for His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem.
There is strength in two and more strength in dozens. The gathering of christians is more potent than the gathering of non-christians because….
Matthew 18:20: Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.
At many evangelical services Lord Jesus comes with grace to teach and grace to comfort and grace to strengthen. Heaven opens (sometimes a little and sometimes a lot) and a blessing (sometimes a little and sometimes a lot) is poured upon those in attendance. Sometimes the service is ho hum, and other times pretty good. One might have to attend a couple of ho hums to get a pretty good, but even in the ho hums there is something.
For all its inadequacy, the typical evangelical congregation bears good fruit, and through them heaven’s population increases. Most churches have a children’s program whereby youngsters are introduced to the Lord Jesus. And a youth program to challenge secularism for the hearts of teens.
The sincere evangelical regularly attending sunday service will be safe. Gathering with the saints will assure the branch is always connected to “the true vine”. Perhaps one day he will mature sufficiently and have no need of such a formal way of gathering with the saints. But until then….