Somehow I don’t think they said it in the first century. I don’t think when Peter and the other elders in the Jerusalem church approached a member about blatant sin in his life that the erring member responded, “Well, don’t worry about me anymore. I won’t be back at Jerusalem. I’m just going to place my membership at North Jerusalem.” I don’t think they had a North Jerusalem church in that particular metro area. But we have them today in big towns, little towns and all-in-between-towns. You know, it’s the church over there where you can go even if you are in an unscriptural marriage and nobody will ask any questions. Your attendance patterns don’t have to be so systematic; in fact they can be rather sporadic, and no one will visit your home to encourage or help keep you accountable. There’s usually a big crowd over there and it’s easy to get lost in it. If you’ve had a falling out with your current elders, go to North Jerusalem. Over there they just don’t get involved in those kinds of issues. In fact, if it’s complicated in any way, the elders at North Jerusalem just like to “avoid those sorts of discussions.” They simply had rather “let God sort all that out in the judgment day.” The sad fact is that, so many times, when people become caught up in doctrinal error, sins of immorality or lukewarm Christianity, they see North Jerusalem, the more “grace-based” church as an easy out. When people don’t want to be confronted by faithful elders who are serious about the shepherding business for which they will be held accountable (Heb.13:17), it’s just so easy to pack up the sin and take it over to the that other flock; where the shepherds are not so worried about the sheep, the entrance of the wolves or the return of the Good Shepherd in the final day. Ahh, but the final day…that’s what’s so uncomfortable about this church-hopping scenario we have created in the Bible belt. You see, so many times when Jan decides to divorce her husband and marry her co-worker, she may find it very “convenient” to start looking around for a church that will sort of look the other way; a place that has kind of gotten a reputation for peace at any price; a place where elders make decisions about money, buildings, programs, and preachers, but not so much about disciplining souls or the purity of the church. So, the first thing you know, when faithful elders sit down to meet with Jan, she just says it “I guess I’ll just go to ____________________.” Trouble is, the statement “I guess I’ll just go to ______________ ,” often has implications that transcend congregational choices and reach all the way to the final day. Often “I guess I’ll just go to ___________________,” really means “I guess I’ll just go to hell.” It means I know I am sinning, but I do not want to be bothered or approached about repenting. It means I want to be given an anesthetic that will make me stop feeling pain when I sin. It means I want to knowingly place myself outside the protection of those who care enough to intercede on my behalf and under the jurisdiction of those who are willing to watch as I am hurled into an eternity to meet the Judge of all the earth who will certainly ascertain or “sort out” truth exactly as he has revealed it. Sort of makes you a little confused now about which church really is “grace-based” doesn’t it? Grace means caring enough to do difficult things. Grace means rescuing those in danger and protecting the weak. Grace involves a willingness to get out of my comfort zone to save somebody else. All of that happened at Calvary. And all of that happens when godly elders lead faithful churches to practice discipline as prescribed in II Thessalonians 3:6 and I Corinthians 5. As for me, I want a REAL grace-based church. I guess I’ll just stay at _______________; happy that there are those who will come to get me if I walk away; secure that there are godly shepherds who will fight wolves for my soul. Because, in the final day, I want the word “heaven” in the blank.
How can a human potentate sit in an ornate but man-made chair and proclaim he is speaking for Deity? How can a mother carry a baby to a basin of water and have a man in a robe sprinkle that tiny forehead and then walk away believing she has affected that baby’s eternal destiny? How can an entire world of religionists decide that baptism, the point of contact with the blood of Christ (Romans 6:3,4), has nothing to do with washing away sins? How can a man convince himself that all heartfelt worship is pleasing to the same God who destroyed Nadab and Abihu for a small departure from the God-prescribed details of worship (Lev. 10:1-7)? How can we believe that everyone who cries out to the Lord for salvation will be saved, when the Lord himself stated the opposite (Matt. 7:21)?
The answer: We can only do it when we stop studying the Word for ourselves. If you want to be spiritually comfortable in this life, get out of the Word. Go to church. Pray. Give to the poor. Look around you for community standards of morality. Talk about values. Teach your children the golden rule. But DO NOT study your Bible! It’s kind of a fun way of life. Other people respect you because you are religious. Your children can be popular because they are accepting of all “people of faith”. They can participate in all of the activities of their peers, because God wants them to be happy. Your god is a god of pluralism…a god who is accepting of all good and sincere hearts. There are few pangs of conscience because the verses you are violating don’t pop into your unstudied head. There are no real rules of religion, but it sure makes you feel good to be religious.
And all is well with you and your household…until the judgment day.
Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matt.7:22,23)
I hope you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to get in the Book every single day during 2010.
(Above taken from “Women of Troubled Times,” by Cindy Colley, Publishing Designs, Huntsville, AL)