Am I Who I Say I Am?

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?”

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About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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2 Responses to Am I Who I Say I Am?

  1. ptl2010 says:

    Why do Christians like to go back to the pig pen? because
    – there are many people there who will provide they think the cover – to be lost in the crowd- rather than to stand outside and be spotted.
    – it is comfortable to be one of the crowd rather than be scruitinized
    – there is no innate power to stand away unless with Holy Spirit strength
    – without the Holy Spirit who will fill only a clean vessel, the slide back is inevitable.
    We must at all times be filled with the Holy Spirit to be separate. The Lord help us always to choose to be in His Presence rather than to choose to be in the presence of the ungodly.

  2. I totally agree with his statement: “A worldly church cannot and will not reach the world. The church must be distinct from the world to reach the world”

    I became a Christian in 1958 and I must say the Church was very different then. I have to admit it was known (PARTLY, at least) for its negativity – i.e. they don’t smoke, don’t gamble, don’t swear, don’t go to the movies, don’t work, play sports, buy newspapers etc on Sundays, don’t . . .

    I don’t believe we can blame one thing (other than the devil) for the downward trend, but I do believe the advent of TV played a part. The unwholesome lifestyle portrayed on the screens which entered our lounge rooms, must have impacted young lives, as an unnatural life style was portrayed as natural (and soon became natural or at least accepted)

    What can reverse the trend? Kent’s quote answers: “We must set ourselves apart to God if we hope to reach the world” We need to get back to being distinct from the world – distinct in a way that people will ‘want what we have’. They should see the abundant life we experience. They should see the joy and peace, even in times of hardship. They should see the love and care extended to all. They should be able to see the living triune God at work in the lives of the Church – and it starts with each individual.

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