Today begins the day that the earth, in our part of the world, is about to see the “big thaw.” Our single digit temperatures from a week ago are giving way to a balmy sixty degrees today! My aching bones are so ready. But ever ready on my heart is the answered prayer that there will be a big thaw in the church of God. I speak collectively across every denomination, not one in particular. My stomach turns at the thought of my own prejudiced behavior over the years of salvation where because of biased views I judged another’s faith. In truth I doubt you can point your finger at me without at least a little dirt beneath your nails, it seems to be the nature of the greater majority of us.
We realize that we’re wretched sinners, deserving of a Devil’s Hell, and by the grace of God we are gratefully saved. And for a while we look back at the congregation of God and see them as the greatest thing since ®Oreo cookies. Pure sweetness! But then, little by little, the dogma of men creeps into our hearts, and denominations are viewed as black and white, and the sweetness is gone. One is right, the other wrong, never the twain shall meet. I am not foolish enough to believe that different denominations should meet under the same roof; for those firm in our beliefs trying to convert doctrines would do nothing but cause an even deeper division, but… and here’s where big thaw needs to take place, the lost need to see Christ, not our opinion of Christ.
I believe that this thaw has begun in our community and it stirs my soul when I see churches extending the right hand of fellowship outside the church, whether or not they agree inside. And while Pastor’s must set the standard, the congregation as a whole is to follow suit.
Jesus spoke a parable in Luke 6 that I believe can work to relate on the matter.
For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Tell me what type of fruit could possibly come from negative conversations about another church or even worse, specific church members. Rotten. It’s not like I’m airing dirty laundry that’s never been hung on the line, it’s been blowing in the wind for decades. My Mother tells of the two churches in her country neighborhood of Strange Creek, West Virginia, a Baptist and a Methodist no less, that were one in the same when they were kids. They’d attend one in the morning and another in the evening, they’d switch it up just for fun. They’d have church fellowships and all was well. Well, those days are long gone! And the effects are long gone too.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that church attendance is at an all-time low. The fruit for which our churches are bearing is not the fruit of the Word of God, but rather the rotten fruit of men. The concern for souls gets overshadowed by the concerns of men (and women as the case may be.)
Jesus concluded His parable in verses 47-49
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
When building the Church, the foundation is Christ alone. If you’re building with any other words than His, your not building the church, you’re tearing it down.