John T. Willis

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Church Politics: This is a Heart Issue (Part 3)

The Enlightenment beginning in the late sixteenth century A. D. introduced a new way of thinking in many directions. One of these is to divide issues into specific compartments. This approach is very different from what one finds in the Bible. Here are ONLY a few examples. 1. Many religious people and churches have made a sharp distinction between "Religious Activities" and "Social Activities." In Churches of Christ, many people argued that helping the poor, the needy, the marginalized, the widow, the orphan, the alien is a "Social Activity," NOT a "Religious Activity." Thus, they argued that the responsibility of the church is to convert the lost to Christ. If one can baptize a person, the work of God is done. A study of the Bible shows how wrong this concept is. Jesus taught that in the final judgment, God will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep are the godly, and the goats are the ungodly. The criterion is NOT converting the lost to Christ, but to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome stranger into one's home, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit prisoners. James 1:27 says: "RELIGION that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." Helping the poor, the needy, the widow, the orphan, etc., lies at the HEART of TRUE RELIGION. 2. Many religious people and churches have made a sharp distinction between the church and the state, between religious activities and political and military activities. The problem with this concept is that NO ONE can separate any human being from his or her beliefs, concepts, feelings, or concerns at worship and from his or her beliefs, concepts, feelings or concerns at a restaurant or at a ball game or serving in the military or working at the job. ALL RELIGION is about ALL OF LIFE. One is VERY DECEPTIVE to himself or herself to think otherwise. Think about the life of Jesus. MUCH of what Jesus did was NOT at the temple or the synagogue, but in homes, in the field, traveling, etc. TRUE RELIGION has to do with our intimate daily personal relationship with God and the way in which we think and deal with all other people. 3. Many religious people and churches have made a shart distinction between speech and behavior at religious services and speech and behavior at other meetings. God wants everyone to be the same wherever we live. Our heart must be pure wherever we are and whatever we are doing. If a temptation or sin corrupts the heart, we must change. Our speech must be consistent. A huge problem with all of us is dishonest speech, that is, saying one thing when planning to do something very different. One important text pointing out this concept is Jeremiah 12:1-3: "You will be in the right, O Lord, when I lay charges against you; but let me put my case to you. Why does the way of the guilty prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? You plant them, and they take root; they grow and bring forth fruit; you are NEAR IN THEIR MOUTHS YET FAR FROM THEIR HEARTS. But you, O Lord, know me; You see me and test me--my heart is with you." Similarly, Paul tells Titus: "To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. Their very minds are consciences are corrupted. THEY PROFESS TO KNOW GOD, BUT THEY DENY HIM BY THEIR ACTIONS They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work." (Titus 1:15-16). Share YOUR concepts and misgivings and dreams and shortcomings and beliefs with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis


  • Thanks Dr. Willis for posting these, I have really enjoyed reading them. What about the concept of "Sunday Dress" or dressing your best for God. Where did this idea come from? I have begun to struggle with this as I raise my kids. I don't want my children to think that God only cares about those who dress nice for church, nor do I want to make anyone uncomfortable at church.

    By Blogger Allison, at 8:59 PM  

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