Sunday, 20 November 2011

Celebrate What's Right With The Church

“So whatever you believe about these things
keep between yourself and God.”
Romans 14:22 (NIV)

At a recent seminar, I had the privilege of seeing a video called, "Celebrate What's Right With The World" It is an amazing vision-setting training video by Dewitt Jones, a former photographer with the National Geographic Society. I was totally enthralled with this video. If it were not for the rather steep price tag, I would most certainly be buying my own personal copy.

As I watched this video, I thought about its title and I began to ask myself another similar question, “What is Right with the Church,” and, “is there something therein that is still worth celebrating?” I confess that I have often written on what was wrong with the church, but now suddenly I feel led to look at the other side of this coin.

We often like to draw people’s attention to the flaws in things we see around us. If we take time to look, we all can easily find problems at work, problems in the church, problems with the neighbor’s mannerisms, or problems in society as a whole. However, what would happen if we all spent just a little more time focusing on the positive around us instead of only on all that we perceive as being negative?

A friend of mine often speaks about, “eating the meat and spitting out the bones.” Are there bones in the church that need to be spit out? Most certainly there are. However, unless we believe in another maxim, namely, the throwing of the proverbial baby out with the bath water, there is also a great deal of wonderful meat in the church for us to chew on. Having said that, shouldn’t we celebrate that?

The problem is that there are several interpretations out there of what it means to be “the church.” When we speak about “Celebrate What’s Right with the Church,” what do we mean by “church?” Are we talking about the traditional institutional church? Are we referring to one particular denomination over against another one? Are we thinking of one of the more recent modern terms such as “Organic” church, or “Simple” church? Or are we simply talking about the universal Body of Christ, those born of His Spirit, regardless of where or how they meet?

It’s bad enough when the world slanders the church, but when the church slanders the church, that’s downright sickening! Have we forgotten that the Christ who died for that group of believers over there also died for this group of believers over here? God forgive us! I am reminded of an event in the Gospels that sounds like it came out of some of the negativism about the church in many Christian circles today. It was credited to John, but the way some of us have sometimes carried on in our “anti-institutional” or our “anti-something-else” rants, it could just as well have been you or me who said it.  The passage is Luke 9: 49-50 which in the NIV reads,
“Master,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
Have we also been guilty of trying to stop other believers simply because they have a different view of things than you and I have? To be sure, none of us would dare admit that, but to listen to us trash talking other church groups or institutions, one has to wonder some times. No, personally I don’t believe in a lot of stuff associated with institutional Christianity, but that does not give me license to drag it through the mud all the time. God forgive me for the times I’ve done that.

Jesus also said something else that I’ve often wondered about. He was just accused of driving out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, when he replied,
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every household divided against itself will not stand … He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:25,30; NIV).
I suspect that the reason we don’t “stand” united in the church today is because we have become a “household divided against itself.”  We’ve become really good at airing each other’s dirty laundry. The problem then becomes that we no longer “gather” with Christ but by our bickering we “scatter” would-be converts. The non-believing world looks at this church “divided against itself” and shakes their heads. Why would they want what we’re selling if all they see is dissentions and factions (acts of the sinful nature; Galatians 5:20) in us?

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18; KJV). I would like to suggest a new vision for the church. Instead of all the negativism, lets focus on “Celebrating What’s Right with the Church.” If others have put their faith in Jesus, lets celebrate that. If God is doing something wonderful in that institutional church, let’s celebrate that together with them. If God is ministering to that non-institutional church that meets in Mrs. Smith’s home, let’s celebrate that with them. Though some of us may not be denominationalists, lets celebrate with those who are as they rejoice over the people who just found Jesus in their midst. Let’s focus on the positives and not the negatives. 

  • What are some of the positives that you’ve seen in other groups of believers that gather for worship in very different ways than you do?
  • What are some of things that are right with the institutional church? What are some of the things that are right with the non-institutional church?
  • Forget the negativism, can we “Celebrate What’s Right with the Church?”
Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Holy Vandalism?

“And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.” (Mark 2:4; ESV)

How far are we prepared to go towards ensuring that the people who are important to us get to meet Jesus? Is it only an occasional or even rare mentioning of our faith?

Has religious proselytizing gotten such a bad rap that you and I only cautiously, if we do it at all, share our faith out of a desire to have others come and know the Jesus whom we worship and call Lord? Or have we become so consumed with what we perceive to be the errors in the faith walks of others, that we have missed what is possibly the most important thing of all? I worry about that sometimes.

I was thinking about the event with the paralytic. Kudos to his friends for wanting to get their buddy to see Jesus, and kudos to them for knowing that Jesus was his only hope. They get to the house where Jesus was discussing the things of God, a house which the Amplified Bible suggests was probably Peter’s home, only to find that they couldn’t even get anywhere near the door, much less inside to see Jesus.

I asked myself, what would I have done? If I were one of the guys carrying my buddy on a stretcher to Jesus, I’m ashamed to say that I probably would have turned back. “It’s no use,” I likely would have said to the others with me, “we can’t get anywhere near Jesus. If we were alone, we might be able to push part way through this crowd, but carrying George (no offense, George), not a chance! Forget it; it’s no use! Let’s go. Anyone for pizza?”

Or perhaps, I might have gotten my priorities screwed up and gotten caught up in the religious discussions with the scribes and other religious leaders who Mark tells us were also there that day. I might have forgotten about my buddy’s need to see Jesus as I argued theology and blogged about the problems in the institutional church. In my perceived piety, would I have forgotten the importance of walking in love and godly relationships? Would I have failed to show him the real Jesus, and not just the junk that man often tacks on to Him?

Thankfully for the paralytic, his friends didn’t do what I likely would have done. They saw the urgency of the situation, and were not deterred by the obstacles before them. They stayed focused. In their way of thinking, it was imperative that their buddy saw Jesus on that day. Coming back tomorrow when some of the crowds would likely have dispersed was not good enough for them. There was an overwhelming urgency that their friend should meet Jesus today!

What really amazes me about this event is that when all else failed, they even resorted to vandalism to ensure their friend meet Jesus. I can’t help but wonder what the home owner thought about his roof being dismantled like that? What do you suppose was going through his mind as plaster began falling from the ceiling and he suddenly discovered that he had a skylight where none had existed a few moments before? What would your reaction have been if that were your house?

Now, I am not suggesting that vandalism is ever justifiable, but I am reminded of the urgency of the moment for the non-believer. Paul says, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2; ESV). One thing that none of us knows is when we will take our final breath. Suppose for our friend, that final breath were to come tonight and we did nothing about introducing him to Jesus today. Could you live with yourself knowing as you do what the Bible teaches about the fate of the non-believer after death? Or have we become so lethargic that we’ve actually tuned out that reality? Lord, may it not be so.

How far are we prepared to go towards ensuring that the people who are important to us get to meet Jesus while it is yet called “today?” God help us to see the urgency of the moment. God keep us focused.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Friday, 11 November 2011

Where Is God?

Photo Credit: add1sun
Where is God in the night sky?
Where is God in the city light?
Where is God in the earthquake?
Where is God in the genocide?

Where are you in my broken heart?
Everything seems to fall apart
Everything feels rusted over
Tell me that you're there.

(lyrics from "Vice Verses" by Switchfoot)

I love that title track from Switchfoot’s new album, “Vice Verses.” Where is God in the midst of this or that event? Where is God in the hungry and malnourished child? Where is God as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? Where is God in … ? Who hasn’t asked such a question a time, or a thousand times, before? Some have even disbelieved in God because they couldn’t come up with a satisfactory answer to the question, “Where are you, God?” More often than not, I don’t have an answer either, but I know that God is there, even when nothing around me seems to make much sense.

As I thought about all this again, I was reminded of some notes I had written some time ago in the margins of a journaling Bible that I own. They are based on a portion of Haggai. Haggai is only two chapters long and is known as one of the “Minor Prophets.” Here is Haggai 1: 3-11 as read in the ESV:
Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and have harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. 
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified, says the Lord. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts? Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”
Now, I have many more questions here than I have answers. Where is God in the midst of calamity? Where is God when everything seems to go so wrong? In the same way, have you ever wondered why many of us seem to always be struggling to get ahead in life? Where is God in this? Why do we work and work and never seem to have enough? While I used to often reflect on that, I think I may finally have a “little” more clarity and peace on this subject than I used to. The answer for me is now, at least partially, summed up in two words: 1) Choices, and 2) Consequences. 

However, before we go any further, a quick caveat is in order. I am in no way suggesting that earthquakes and genocides and such (as in Switchfoot’s lyrics) are as a result of our choices and consequences thereof in life.  I also realize that there are those who are steeped in poverty in many parts of the world, and that they are in those circumstances through no fault of their own. I am not talking about them. I have lived in the third world amidst abject poverty and as such have some understanding of it.

What I am primarily referring to is the common attitude of most (but certainly not all) capitalistic-minded North Americans. Why do they never seem to have enough? I am convinced that it is often because of the choices we make and consequences of those choices. Why do the poorest of the nations poor never seem to have enough? In this case it is not because of their choices, but I would argue, also again because of the “Me” hoarding attitude of the wealthier western nations who talk the talk of feeding and caring for the hungry, but who do relatively little about it.

Photo Source Unknown

God said through Haggai, “consider your ways,” and again, “consider your ways” (1:5,7). He said it twice within two little verses. Forgive me for sounding sarcastic, but could it be that just maybe, it’s important? Could it be that just maybe we should “consider our ways?” I mean, what if God means exactly what He said He means? Let’s not over analyze this too much. What if He means, “Consider your ways?” Hmm.

Is the answer to our question of not having enough found in one of Haggai’s own questions? He asked, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins” (Haggai 1:4; ESV)? Are we also, as in Haggai’s day, so preoccupied with building our homes and our lives, while the temple of God remains in ruins? Have fancy houses, bank accounts, careers, man-toys and tropical vacations, all somehow trumped the things of God in our pseudo-Christian society?

Let’s back up a little. I am not suggesting a return to ancient Israel’s temple-based worship; far from it. So if not that, then what are we talking about? Well let me ask you, what is the temple of God today? Paul answers that question for us in 1 Corinthians 3:16,17. He says, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” Wow. That sounds serious! It doesn’t sound like a whole lot of gray area there, does it? There are at least two ways of looking at this; individually and corporately.

So this all begs a couple more questions. Individually, how many of us really take care of our “temples?” Too many of us drink too much, smoke too much, are bordering on obesity, and generally don’t give much consideration to our “temples” at all. Our diets are all messed up with all the wrong kinds of foods. Most of us don’t get anywhere near enough exercise. We’re preoccupied with everything, it seems, but with the things of God. Are not our “temples,” that is our physical bodies, just as important to God as our spiritual selves? At the very least, that does seem to be what Paul is implying. It’s great to focus on our individual spiritual walks, but what about our physical walks?

Secondly, when we look at this corporately, what about the physical walks of the world’s less fortunate? Are not their bodies as much a part of the “temple” as our bodies are? Dare we make a separation between them and us? Are we not all a part of the Body of Christ, the “temple” of God? Where is God in the social injustice of the west getting fat in her riches while the poor child starves in the less fortunate nations? Shouldn’t that be important too? Are we guilty by association of our western birthplaces of destroying that poorer part of God’s “temple?” I wonder.

Permit me to ask another question: Have we screwed up our priorities? I know that I often have, and I am not proud of it! But then we wonder why we never seem to have enough (Haggai 1:6) and why God sometimes allows the destroyer to attack our “temples” with sicknesses and, we think, premature death (1 Corinthians 3:17). Could it be because we have forsaken His “temple?” Could it be because we have failed miserably in the global “one anothering” department? God said in our Haggai text that He actually withheld the dew, the produce, and generally the good things in life (Haggai 1: 10-11). Why? It seems that the answer is because of our screwed up priorities. Does that not speak to the earlier question of choices and consequences? Hmm, I wonder.

We had it all! We were blessed beyond measure. There was more than enough for everyone. If only we had shared with the less fortunate, we all would have been fed. Instead, we chose to gather more manna than we were permitted to, and because we hoarded it, it began to rot and fill with maggots (Exodus 16:20). Now, not only do the poorer nations not have anything, ironically we too, who once seemed to hold all the manna stock, now never seem to have enough ourselves. Our wealth has begun to rot around us. As in Haggai’s day, has God once again begun to hold back the blessings, this time from us, because His “temple” (His people…globally), are in ruins? I wonder.

Why do we do everything so backwards all the time? Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33; ESV). What ought our first preoccupation be? Shouldn’t it be the care of all mankind as opposed to only a select few? How ought we to prioritize our lives? What do we “really” seek first? “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” Are we preoccupied with building our worldly lives to such an extent that the things of God are playing only second fiddle? Are the things of God even in our musical repertoires at all?  Hmm, I certainly wonder some times. The Apostle Paul said,
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12: 1-2; ESV).
Thankfully God loves us dearly. Thankfully in Jesus, we are already made perfect. Thankfully on the cross Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Thankfully there is nothing more for you and I to do. Thankfully, all that is true and, thankfully, all that will never change. Thankfully Jesus is in us and we are in Him. Thankfully, it is all a done deal. Praise God! Where is God? He is right where He has always been. Though you and I have sometimes left the bus, He has never gone anywhere. I may not understand what tomorrow holds, but I do know who holds it. And that is good enough for me.

Still, God does not change (Malachi 3:6). Our lives on this rock called Earth are still susceptible to consequences from the choices we make. After all, God made us that way; He gave each of us a free will to choose. If because of the choices we make, we live to be 100 or die at 20, that in no way changes God’s love. Good Christians can still make bad choices and bad Christians can still make good choices. For example, God loves and will forgive the sexually promiscuous teenage girl, but the consequences of her promiscuity may still be there by way of an unwanted pregnancy or disease. God loves and will forgive the rich North American whose hoarding of the manna resulted in the starving African child. But the consequences of that hoarding is rot and maggots to such an extent that even many North Americans ironically no longer “seem” to have enough.

Maybe that’s what God meant when He said through Haggai, “consider your ways.”

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

My Heart Cries

I have the honour on this post to introduce you to a dear friend and sister in the Lord. No, to my loss, I have never fellowshipped with her in person, but through our mutual membership in a couple online groups, I feel like I've really developed an eFellowship connection with Kat Huff. This blog has never enjoyed a guest blogger before, so this is a first. I was so blessed by what Kat had written here, that I asked her for permission to post her "My Heart Cries" on my blog. She graciously consented. Do me the honour of welcoming my sister Kat to "Rethinking Faith and Church." May God bless you as Kat shares her heart.

Photo Credit: Kat Huff

I ask you to remember throughout your reading of this entire written word that I am not telling you what to feel or what to think; I am only crying.

Most Christians say with full agreement, that the Lord Jesus Christ is The One Truth, The One Who is One with The Father, The One Way, The One Life, The One Spirit, The One Light, The One Foundation, The One Rock, The One Redeemer, The One Unity, The One Deliverer, The One Lamb, The Worthy One, The One Risen, The One Who Lives, The One Drink, The One Bread of Heaven, The One Worthy Sacrifice, The One Triune God, The One who takes away the sin of the world, The One Supremacy, The One Who Lives in us, The One Who Loves us, and The One Who Comes Again. I know there are many more, but I only name these that come to my heart at this moment.

Most Christians will also say, with full agreement, that the Lord Jesus Christ tells us to be in One mind, One heart, One Spirit, and in One accord as His body. 

The Head and the body are to be One. We are individuals, most certainly, but too I say to you this: We are to be one! We are to be in an intimate relationship of Christ in complete unity with full expression of Him as His One whole body. One Head has only One body, One heart, One mind, and One Spirit.

I could write of many scriptures, historical facts, commentaries, books, and endless et cetera, but I only write this from my heart today and nothing else. Therefore, I desire to speak frankly and sincerely out of my depth of burden to all who care to read this simple writing. Most will not see my heartache as they read, but I ask only that you consider the simpleness of me as I reach out to you. Love that is alive, must reach out, and so, no matter how you view what you are about to read, please know this, it is written only because of love. I do not attempt to prove anything to anybody, nor have I any desire to even try. This is only my heart, that’s all. This is not for any kind of judgment from me onto you, nor from you onto me. If you continue to read this, then you are either just curious, or you truly want to know my heart and why it cries.

Most of us today worship our Lord in ”Christendom” with a multitude of contradictions among one another. There are numerous factions, sects, religions, denominations, organizations, and divisions of many certain beliefs, doctrines, rules, regulations, religious constitutions, and traditions. I humbly beg you to consider a moment this question: Can The One Truth be divided, fractionated, and organized to our liking and still be The Divine One and Only Truth Whom we seek?

We all are familiar with the scriptures that state the fact that Jesus Christ is THE TRUTH. If you agree, then does the following make any sense to your Christian spirit and heart? The Truth cannot be a system of beliefs, religious traditions, man’s established ways, worship rituals, nor any religion, since these are all split and divided. Please tell my heart, how is it right that we call ourselves followers of our Lord Jesus and at the time we are so obviously divided, separate, and individual. Can we truly and sincerely convince our hearts it does not matter to our Lord Jesus Christ? I cannot.

Does this seem too harsh and direct? If so, please consider for a moment how our Lord Jesus Christ is to accept Himself as being considered a divided, fractioned, split, organized, departmentalized, categorized, denominated, and broken-up Lord within what is considered in this day “Christianity.” 

Can we step away from our mirrors, ourselves, our lives, our desires, our busyness, our merit, and our self-right long enough to glance through the eyes of our Lord Jesus? Do you think we may not like what we see? Do we present His body to Him as scattered pieces of membered fractions? Is our Lord Jesus something we join up for on a titled list within a religious system with a written constitution of our own? Is our Lord something we sign up for as a joined member in an organization or denomination?

Why do so many consider the House of God as a physical building made by the hands of man? Why do many Christians worship in an established building with traditional rituals under a hired head (a Christian) and a governing elected body (Christians) among commoners (Christians)? 

I want to address specifically what I think most of you would agree with me on, at least I think so anyway. We are a country that promotes individualism more than any other people in the world. 

Sometimes, it feels like we have gone so far away from true Unity we may never realize it as a people, and all because of the mass, accepted standard of the I. From the many media sources such as TV, radio, movies, music, magazines, books, and countless forms of the I propaganda, we no longer recognize it, because we are ingrained with it, so much so, we do not see it or we are not aware of it most of time, if at all. Our lives are overwhelmingly centered on the individual self.

The “I” divide is embedded into the everyday way of life, our minds, our Christian lives and even our worship. We all profess to be “family” in words, but could we missing something we have never experienced or considered? Is this something within The One Truth who is the One Supreme Person— Jesus Christ the Lord? 

There is only One who is the Supremacy of Everything, including the I's, and that One is our Lord Jesus Christ! May He open the eyes and the hearts of us all that we may SEE HIM AS ONE.

We certainly must be misguided or something, because Christ is the Perfect Divine Unity. Read our most wonderful Lord Jesus’ prayer to The Father before His crucifixion to get a hint of that unity that we are suppose to be In Him. I’ve read it many times, I can’t seem to read it without crying, because I do not see in Christianity that Oneness which is described in our Lord Jesus’ prayer, His very words about us. How have we gone so far away from what Jesus prayed to the Father concerning what He desired for us? It matters to me so very much.

There are many other scriptures that speak of this unity, but like I wrote a moment ago, I am only speaking my heart. I do not wish to get into a debate or proof contest of any kind. I have no need for that. I have no desire for that. I simply am just writing. Do you hear my heart crying now?

Author: Kathy Marie Huff

Monday, 7 November 2011

Does Your Username and Password Match?

I laughed when I saw this cartoon. How many times hasn’t my username and my password not been in agreement with each other? However, there is a deeper and more sobering message in this cartoon as well. Outside the pearly gates St. Peter seems about to turn that poor fellow away because, as I interpreted it, his profession doesn’t agree with who he really is.

Jesus said, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to … Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!” (Luke 13: 24, 26-27; NIV). Is it possible that there will be people who, though they may remember their username, don’t have the correct password to go with it? Is it possible that some people will be turned away at the gates of glory, so to speak? I think it is very possible, and I think that one of the reasons for it seems to come out of Ezekiel.

“And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had a sensor in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures?’ For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.’” (Ezekiel 8: 11-12; ESV)

The footnote in my ESV Study Bible says, “The presence of Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan among the 70 elders may have been a shock. He was probably a member of the clan of Shaphan (2 Kings 22: 8-10) which had proved so loyal to the cause of Yahweh in Jeremiah’s ministry (eg., Jer. 26:24). This identification is not certain, but would explain why Jaazaniah is singled out for mention here.” Jaazaniah’s password did not seem to line up with his username.

I was reflecting on this passage for a while. In a vision, God had revealed to the prophet Ezekiel that a horrible abomination was going on in the temple. There in the temple, of all places, “engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 8:10; ESV). It’s one thing to sin away from the temple; it seems quite another to blatantly do so right in the temple. Their username and password were not in agreement.

Now maybe we’re reading into this text, but when it speaks of the “seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel,” it is easy to make a connection between those seventy and the Sanhedrin of ancient Israel. What was the Sanhedrin? According to the New Bible Dictionary, “Both before and at the time of Christ, it was the name of the highest tribunal of the Jews which met in Jerusalem.” According to tradition, it had its roots with the seventy elders that assisted Moses back in Numbers 11: 16-24. Essentially, the Sanhedrin was the Supreme Court of religious Judaism.

The troubling part was that, here the spiritual leaders of the nation were involved in something that God called an “abomination” (vs. 13). What was that abomination? It was a “done-in-the-dark secret,” or so they thought, right under the nose of God Almighty.

“Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here, that they should fill the land with violence and provoke me still further to anger?” (Ezekiel 8:17).

As I thought about these things, my mind drifted to a question I once again heard asked recently. The question wasn’t really so unique, for I’m sure we’ve all asked it too. What was the question? It was, “Why does it seem like the church has lost its power in the world today? Perhaps the answer to that question lies in the Ezekiel text.

We say, “Wait a minute! That was Old Testament! We can’t apply that to the church today!” Can’t we? The more I look at it, the more I see the New Testament church as a carbon copy of the Old Testament. I am not saying that the church is somehow to be equated with the Old Testament temple; far from it! What I am saying is that God’s nature hasn’t changed. “I the Lord do not change,” God said in Malachi 3:6. Likewise, human nature certainly hasn’t changed either. Sin is still sin. The things the ancients wrestled with are wrestled with today too. Abominations and idolatries that were a problem for the nations of Israel and Judah are still problems today in the church. We are very na├»ve if we think that we cannot make the same mistakes today that the ancients made.

How many elders/pastors in the church today wrestle with the same sins that the Sanhedrin and leaders of old wrestled with? How many have a secret “room of pictures” that they go to in the dark when no one is watching, be it issues with infidelity, alcoholism, drug abuse, pornography, or whatever? Though we may not see; God sees all the idolatries, and they are an abomination to Him! Every once in a while we hear through the media or the church gossip networks of another leader who fell when their “room of pictures” was exposed. How sad! This begs another question, “How many others among the spiritual “seventy men of the elders” are there who simply haven’t yet got caught? Human nature hasn’t changed. The same devil that tempted them, tempts you and me today too.

Matthew Henry said, “The sins of the leaders are leading sins.” When leaders, the “seventy men of the elders,” blatantly and non-repentantly sin, they drag others down with them. Perhaps that is why James said that teachers will be judged more strictly than the average person (James 3:1).

Where is the power in the church today? Could it be that the power is gone because many of us today are not walking where God would have us to walk? Could it be that there are too many of us with “secret rooms of pictures?” Could it be that we have shrugged our shoulders at the “abomination” part? Could it be that “sin” has become a politically incorrect word, not just in the world, but even in the church today? Could it be that our passwords don’t line up with our usernames?

The good news is summed up in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us of all unrighteousness.” James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” We pray for revival, but I dare say that there won’t be revival in the church so long as leaders continue to have “secret rooms of pictures.” If the leaders don’t confess and repent, then how will the church confess and repent? Confession and Repentance comes before Revival.

The password must agree with the username. Does yours? Does mine? Hmm, I wonder.