Archive for May, 2015

03
May
15

ALL THIS OVER A PIG!

“Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be d made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I of Apollos,’ and ‘I of Cephas,’ and ‘I of Christ.’  Has Christ been divided?” – I Corinthians 1:10-13a

After the Civil War, on the border of West Virginia and Kentucky, there raged a feud between the Hatfield family on the West Virginia side, and the McCoy family on the Kentucky side.  Over a 30 year period, there were a few skirmishes, but matters really heated up when Johnse Hatfield started courting Roseanna McCoy.  After being caught on the Kentucky side of the Tug Fork River, Johnse was held captive by the McCoy family for outstanding bootlegging warrants in Kentucky.  Roseanna crossed the river to warn the Hatfield family who gathered up a posse to forcibly take Johnse back home.  Johnse later left Roseanna and married her cousin, Nancy.  After numerous trials, various jail sentences and dozens of murders, the feud finally died down.  The ironic point of the whole feud is that according to many sources, it supposedly intensified over the disputed ownership of a hog.  How sad;  all this over a pig!
In the days of the early church, there was a lot of division over various parts of the relatively young church.  Some were teaching that you had to be circumcised in order to be saved.  Some sources say that some where teaching that you had to be baptized to be saved.  And yet others were divided over who the leadership of the church should be.  Paul had a to-the-point question regarding these divisions: “Has Christ been divided?”
Such divisions do more damage than good to the witness of the church, whose mission is to evangelize the world (Matthew 28:19-20).  We have trite arguments over how the offering to be taken up or what the preacher is supposed to wear.  We have silly divisions over if we should sprinkle, dunk once or dunk three times for baptism – perhaps we should hold them underwater until they really repent!  Some church divisions refuse to allow one to speak to the congregation unless they have been baptized in that denomination!
When the world, who is in need of salt and light, sees the church fussing and feuding over relatively small, trivial matters, and sees different denominations puffing their chest with pride over how they have the best system, it turns them off.  We are to be an example of unity and love, not an example of being worse than the world!  Let us all, whatever denomination or division, determine to find ways to be a united church, not a divisive church!
Besides, all these problems are over a pig!

03
May
15

THIS IS CHURCH

“And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”  Hebrews 10:24-25

At the close of the service on the first Sunday of the month, our church worships by taking communion.  Communion has always been a deep, intimate form of worship for me, as I consider it a memorial service.  Jesus Christ said that when we  eat the bread and drink the cup, we do so “in remembrance of me”  (I Corinthians 11:24-25).  It is a time that I take to concentrate and meditate on the suffering that the Messiah endured so that I could have eternal life.  The Great Creator God loved me so much that He would give up His life for me, and I am overwhelmed by this demonstration of His undying love and devotion.  I almost always cry during communion as a result.  But on a recent Sunday, a dear sister came up beside me, kissed me gently on the forehead and hugged me.  She didn’t speak a word, but preached volumes with that gesture.  This is church.
There are a number of reasons for church.  According to Jesus, the mission of the church is to win souls (Matthew 28:19-20).  According to Romans, we must gather to increase and strengthen our faith by hearing the Word preached (Romans 10:17).  But here in Hebrews, we must gather together to do two other things.
The first thing that we must do as a church is to search for ways to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).  The greatest artists and writers cannot create a masterpiece until they are inspired to do so.  They need a spark that can be nurtured and fanned into a flame that roars to heights so that no one can ignore its light and heat.  We as brothers and sisters in the faith must stimulate and inspire each other for the work ahead of us.  This is church.
The second thing that we as a church are to do is to encourage one another.  The Greek word for encourage means to summon, admonish, entreat and comfort.  We are to lift each other up.  It would be much like a runner in a race, who is encouraged by the bystanders who are clapping and cheering her on.  She hears their cheers, and is encouraged by it.  Brothers and sisters in Christ are to do this for one another.  This is church.
Church is about winning souls first, while increasing and strengthening our faith.  But is also about meeting with kindred spirits who embrace what we hold dear and encourage us along the way, cheering for us in the race!
This is church.




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