Gun control, health care, abortion, euthanasia; all topics that have little in common except their ability to almost immediately polarize and divide a crowd. In the same manner, Christianity is facing internal polarizing division as well. In the case of the Christian church, the division is not new. But with the ever increasing liberalization of the world, and the greater number of Christians who choose the liberality of the world over the biblically dogmatic moral absolutes, Christianity is facing some real issues, most especially in America.
Sean Hollen, Sr. Pastor of Harbor CC in Aberdeen/Hoquiam, WA. once shared this analogy with me. He said that the church is supposed to be like a boat. The sea of water that the boat floats on is the fallen, sinful world. The purpose of the boat is to float ON the water. By staying on the surface of the water, where she is designed to be (by her designer), she will fulfill her intended purpose. What a great analogy.
Digging into that of that analogy, we can draw more truth. As long as the passengers in the boat are alert, the boat can be guided where it needs to go. As long as the passengers in the boat are alert, leaks in the boat will be found immediately and repaired. As long as the passengers are alert, even when a strong wind comes against her, she can still be steered and ridden to the destination, or for that matter, can be allowed to simply be directed by the wind from shore to shore wherever she might be taken. As long as the passengers are alert, even if the sea rises up in a tumult against her, the passengers can bail water out of the boat, and it will continue to float fulfilling its designed purpose. Ultimately, the boat is supposed to be in the water, NOT the water in the boat.
- Ladies and gentlemen, I submit that the water is not only in the boat, but that many of the passengers are sleeping as the boat takes on water.
- Of those who are awake, few have noticed the leaks in the hull allowing the water to seep into the boat.
- Many of those who have noticed that their feet are getting wet, do not think it a big enough problem that they should begin to bail.
- For those few who look at the situation as seriously as the ought, they cannot bail fast enough ~ and the boat is sinking deeper and deeper into the sea. There are not enough alert passengers to work in order that the boat can continue to fulfill its intended purpose.
Pennsylvania native A. W. Tozer once wrote, "Religion today is not transforming people; rather it is being transformed by the people. It is not raising the moral level of society; it is descending to society's own level, and congratulating itself that it has scored a victory because society is smilingly accepting its surrender." Tozer went home to be with the Lord in 1963. Forty seven years later, his words ring more true than ever, but something tells me he knew that would be true.
In Tozer's day, the people were not bailing. The boat is still taking on water.
As Christians part of our role must be to bail the water from the boat. To do this, we must know what the water looks like, smells like, feels like, and yes, most of us know what it tastes like. Why? Because we have to identify what needs to be removed from the boat (uh, I mean the church), and get rid of it. You do not have to be an author to recognize a book. You do not have to be a steel worker to know what a piece of steel looks like. In the same light, one does not have to be a sinner to know what sin looks like. We know what God's word says by reading His word, and making ourselves familiar with it. Where scripture is silent, we too must be silent. Where scripture leaves room for interpretation, we too must leave room for interpretation. But where scripture is clear, we must be prepared not only to stand firm in that truth (2 Thessalonians 2:15), but point a loving, caring finger at those areas of the 'church' that are ignoring or turning their backs on God's word. 2 Timothy 3:16 states that, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…" All too often we forget this verse, and in the name of 'grace' allow ourselves to become enablers of sin because speaking out against the world seeping into the church is 'judgmental' or 'politically correct', or not 'loving enough'. Reproof is biblical, it is Godly, and has its place, and the place is here, and the time is now.
We have all heard of the old adage telling us how to cook a frog. You put it in a pot of water, and then turn up the temperature a little bit at a time, The frog will not notice, and the next thing you know he's cooked! Do you honestly think that Satan has never heard of that story? Of course he has, and he is using it to his advantage.
Our human nature is such that we are driven to be liked and successful. The trouble is our human nature is fueled by ego and pride and worldly things, whereas our Spirit is fueled by God's righteousness that scripture tell us wars against the flesh. We must take all thoughts captive, to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), and test all spirits against scripture (I John 4:1). It is time to do it now. Not just those things we here on TV or read on the internet. We must test ALL spirits, TV evangelists, your church, your pastors and teachers, and yes, even all those people and teachings that you have heard all your life and assumed to be biblical. Test even these devotionals against God's word, and if you ever find a conflict you follow God's word, and follow Matthew 18 to its end.
We must question if a freedom taught is not really water leaking into the boat. We must test a denominational doctrine against scripture and see if it is of the boat, or if we need to toss it overboard. We need to look at even the simplest things that feel so right, and see if they still feel right after we compare them to God's word and character.
Make no mistake; the world is in the church. We have gay bishops, denominations that support 'a woman's right to choose', which really means they support abortion. We have churches that call themselves 'Christian', and yet deny the Trinity and others that teach that Jesus' death on the cross only provides 'limited atonement'. We have other 'Christians' denominations that call themselves 'open and confirming' and support and practice same sex marriages in their churches in the name of God. I ache at the very thought, and at the same time have to wonder why no one seems to be bailing?
I did not live through the McCarthy era. I cringe at some of the things that went on in that time as a congressional witch hunt ruined the lives of many. But at the same time, there was more truth to the communist presence in America at that time than any would have guessed or admit today, even as more and more facts come out each year revealing how deeply communist infiltration really had taken place. I am not promoting a Christian 'McCarthyism' where we run out on rails anyone who doesn't think like we do. What I am proposing though is something every bit as radical.
I propose that we do not seek to change anyone else. I propose that we seek to change ourselves! Look into a spiritual mirror, and test the spirituality you see against scripture. Be a Berean and study the scriptures to test those teachings you hear. Look around you and see if perhaps there is a leak in your own boat. Perhaps your boat is leaking, and you do not even know it because you are asleep. Maybe there is a leak in the boat you are sailing in, and your socks are getting wet. YOU start bailing. Don't say a word, just pick up the bucket and quietly start bailing… see if others start to join in.
If we are going to change the church and conform it to Christ, and away from the world, it needs to start in our selves first. Then our families and homes, and then our churches, and then the nation, and then the world. This is how revivals start; by God working through ONE person. Ephesians 6:13 encourages us, "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Let us each pray that it is us that stand firm.