Surveying a piece by Kent Hughes, I came across this statement, “God help us if while decrying sin, we are sprinting headlong after it. We must lay this to heart: A worldly church cannot and will not reach the world. The church must be distinct from the world to reach the world. We must set ourselves apart to God if we hope to reach the world. In a word, the only hope for us and the lost world is a holy church.”
Long ago, I remember a time when the church was very distinct from the world she was in… but not of. Some may argue, “Yes, she was distinct, but mainly because she was very legalistic.” While this is possibly true, it’s also wrong to consider her convictions as having had no merit.
It would be profitable to recognize that God’s plan to reach the world has always been by establishing a people who were to be different from the world. We need only follow the history of Israel to see that this people were called to stand out as nothing like the other nations of the earth. We also need only follow their history to find they were ever trying to be just like those other nations.
The desires and lust afforded to our human nature always leaves us leaning to be the same way. Hence, the phrase, “Keeping up with the Jones.” It’s what we do.
Fortunately, God through His love and grace gave us a better way to be His people than Israel’s assumptive law-keeping effort. He gave us the Spirit of Christ to lead and guide as He wills. But we shouldn’t presume upon that truth and reality.
God has taken care of all of the work. Jesus afforded us the ability to be His people on the cross of Calvary. What has been granted to us is guaranteed by His resurrection. But we still have a responsibility.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we are commanded to work out what God has already worked within (Philippians 2:12). What God has worked within is a passion to be like Jesus… to be like the One who redeemed us. Anything less than like Him is worldliness.
For starters, how anxious was Jesus to save the world from their sin? Do we share that same anxiety? How did Jesus respond to the needs of the people? Do we have that same concern? Are we willing to make sacrifices to meet needs? Jesus was.
I fear Kent Hughes is correct in his assessment of today’s church. He’s given me something to spend some time thinking over. Maybe it’s what all of us who name the name of Jesus need to spend some time doing. I know this is an old statement that everyone has heard a zillion times, but it drives Kent’s quote home. “If I were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to find me guilty?”
- Garden Tomb – Contemplating the Resurrection of Jesus (ptl2010.com)
- Money Matters: Contentment (ptl2010.com)