In judged Jerusalem [during the time of Jeremiah] it was impossible to confuse material prosperity with God’s blessing. It was impossible to confuse social status with God’s favor. It was impossible to confuse national pride with God’s glory. It was impossible to confuse rituals of religion with God’s presence. The clutter of possessions was gone; the trappings of status were gone. And God was present. All the cultural and political and religious and social assumptions and presuppositions that interfere with the clear hearing of God’s word in Jeremiah’s preaching were taken away. Conditions had never been better for developing a mature community of faith.
Category Archives: Santification
Bonhoeffer knew that to live in fear of incurring ” guilt” was itself sinful. God wanted his beloved children to operate out of freedom and joy to do what was right and good, not out of fear of making a mistake. To live in fear and guilt was to be “religious” in the pejorative sense that Bonhoeffer so often talked and preached about.He know that to act freely could mean inadvertently doing wrong and incurring guilt. In fact, he felt that living this way meant that it was impossible to avoid incurring guilt, but if one wished to live responsibly and fully, one would be willing to do so.
>I was reading a blog in response to the pastor who told his church to delete their Facebook accounts to avoid affairs only to then be found having had an affair. One line in the blog caught my attention, “Couples should take steps to build trust and eliminate unnecessary temptations, while still recognizing the individuality of the two people involved.” The quote is true but it also highlights faulty thinking about sanctification. We tend to think about sanctification only in terms of temptation avoidance.
While avoidance of temptation is part of the sanctification process, I think we tend to focus too much on the wrong thing with that perspective. It seems the goal of sanctification in our walks with God is to be moving toward something better. If our focus is always “avoiding the trouble spots” we will find, and often fall, into trouble spots. However if our focus is to deepen our passions for Christ and the things that are closer to God’s heart, our taste and desire for this world will change. While there will still be temptation, it will not be as appealing.
Our hearts follow what we treasure. I think this is why Christ was always challenging his followers in regards to their heart. If our hearts are pursuing Christ, we will still sin but we will be moving in a much better direction than if we are just avoiding temptations.
>I took some time this week to check in on the Southern Baptist Convention via live streaming. I knew that one of the issues that would be discussed was the Great Commission Task Force Final Report. I had read the report and was excited to see some of the ideas and thoughts behind it. While I am glad for the voice and direction of the report, I am afraid that the churches of the SBC are missing the heartbeat of the Great Commission while at the same time being passionate for its results.
One of the things that Southern Baptists are passionate about is helping those who don’t know Christ to meet Him. The history of missions and evangelistic effort in the convention bears this out. Even with the constancy of the heartbeat there seems to be a lack of growth of those who trust Christ and a lack of churches growing through involvement from men and women who have recently trusted Christ.
This is also compounded by the fact that statistically the lives of people in Southern Baptist churches look relatively similar to those of their neighbors who don’t know Christ or attend services of other faith practices. The magnifying glass gets put on the Southern Baptist Convention by the world even sharper when it states positions publicly which the majority of its attendees either don’t agree with or don’t practice in their everyday life. It seems the problem of the convention and its churches is not one of passion for those who don’t know Christ but an inability to help a majority of those who have met Him follow Him.
Every church should have a percentage of their congregation that are not practicing their faith well. We all grow at different rates and through different means. I also believe that growth best happens in our relationship with Christ as we seek to obey Him through fulfilling His mission in our spheres of influence and in this world. We should always have non- and nominal believers among us. But I think as we have focused on certain cultural issues, we have forgotten that personal growth leads to those outward manifestations. Rather than focusing on the cultural hot button issues I wonder if the Spirit is asking us to remind our members of His work of manifesting His fruit in each person’s life.
I am thankful for The Great Commission Task Force and their work. I see wisdom in their recommendation. My desire is for the Southern Baptists to realize that the heartbeat of God’s heart for the lost can only be maintained by those who are growing in a constantly maturing faith in Christ. That is where we as local pastors must do a better job at looking at what we are expecting of our people. We need to ask questions like:
- Do the systems and structures complement the work that the Spirit wants to do in the believer’s life or work against that work?
- Are we actively asking those who join us to follow in a deeper relationship which the god of self is being put to death?
- Are we actively engaging the needs of those around us where the world must stand up and give a response?
The world may hate us but there must come a time where our service to the needy and hurt can no longer allow them to ignore us or call us irrelevant. If we follow Christ, we should receive persecution. But we will also see a trail of those who did not know Him following us to Him. We must follow fully and allow Him to then fulfill His mission.