May the Church be the Church?”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
God’s call is that the church be as He has commanded. The Bible teaches that the church is the body of Christ, Colossians 1:18. The church is made up of many parts. These parts are individual believers for whom Christ died, Ephesians 5:25.
God has commanded the members of Christ’s body, the church to be holy because He is holy, Leviticus 11:44; 1Peter 1:15-16. God declared that His church is His holy priesthood, 1Peter 2:9ff. He is building His people up in Christ, Ephesians 4:11-16.
It seems to me that there is more interest in the church to study our political situation than there is to grow up into Christ! Now, I’m not suggesting that believers should separate themselves from the world. Jesus prayed that God would not take us out of the world but that He would keep us from the evil one and sanctify us in the truth, John 17:14-17. Jesus also made it very clear that the means of sanctification is by the power of the Holy Spirit in concert with the word of God.
Every day it seems that our governmental leaders come up with more lies and half-truths. If you try to keep up with the things that our elected officials say, your head will “swim” in a sea of confusion.
There will be a never-ending supply of incompetent actions and lies emanating from men and women in government. We can easily lose our focus. The church is not beyond the tendency to constantly examine and seek to remedy the failings of our government. In so doing, the church can easily lose her focus on what God has commanded her to be and thereby be unable to make a difference in the world.
The Shema, meaning hear, given by God to the church is His ordained focus. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5 When Jesus was asked to give the greatest commandment, He added Leviticus 19:18. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” Matthew 22:37ff.
God commands the church to love Him! The word translated as “love” conveys the meaning of offering total devotion. The church’s focus is God, to know who He is, to know what He expects.
Some have taught that the way to love God is to love our neighbors. That is not what Jesus said. He clearly stated God’s command to love Him and as the Apostle John said, those who love God cannot hate their brothers, 1John 4:20. Love of our neighbor proceeds from a heart that God has changed. We love because God first loved us, 1John 4:19. So then may we not get confused about our primary focus? God is at the center of all life. He is especially at the center of what His church seeks to do. The church is the visible kingdom of God. As such, we are called by God to be different. The church is accountable to her head, Jesus Christ. God has uniquely gifted members in the church to build up the whole body of Christ. The church was organized by the Risen Lord so that we might all grow up into Christ who is the Head, Ephesians 4:15-16.
Having said all this, I ask a question. “Are you learning about God in your church or are you learning how to cope with the circumstances of life?” The only way that we can be equipped to deal with all the circumstances of life is to know God. We cannot love God with all of our being unless we know Him. God has revealed Himself in His word and supremely in His only Son, Jesus Christ. The first revelation we must know is that the Jesus of the Bible is unique. He is not a creature. He was not born. He is eternally proceeding from the Father. Are you studying the Bible or are you studying what some Christian leader has learned from his or her study of the Bible? When you hear God’s word preached on the Lord’s Day do you hear about God or are you being given steps to have a better life. When you worship on the Lord’s Day are you pleasing God or men? Jesus said that eternal life is to know the one true God, John 17:3