Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Squirming And Smiling In The Pew

How do you feel when your pastor makes you squirm? I am thankful to say that my pastor made me squirm Sunday. I am thankful that I was able to get the fact that "God loves me so He is correcting me" pretty quickly. The excerpt below also talks about how the letters to the first century church are useful for the church today. I provided the link to the entire article/post below if you would like to delve in deeper. I realize that some men may read this and I am not trying to "teach" here. I am sharing a post from Sproul, Jr. and how God is working in my heart right now. (PCA woman disclaimer :)

The following quote is taken from R.C. Sproul Jr.'s column Seek Ye First: Love Letters
Text color emphasis added by me.
"If we would understand all the epistles to churches in the whole of the New Testament, we must first understand the wisdom of this bit of Old Testament wisdom literature: "there is nothing new under the sun" (Eccl. 1:9). The churches of the first century were not models of orthodoxy (right doctrine) and orthopraxy (right behavior). Neither, on the other hand, were they beyond the pale. Instead these churches were weak, worldly, and wishy-washy -- just like us. Surely the church as a whole has ebbed and flowed over the years. But she has, from the beginning and to our own day, not only been a mixture of wheat and tares but also a body wherein even the wheat often behaves like tares. That is, our problems in the church are not merely that there are unbelievers therein, but the unbelief of the believers therein.
This, friends, ought not to discourage us. We certainly do need to remember God's judgment as we face up to the bold preaching against our sins that we find in the epistles in the New Testament. But we must likewise remember how these letters begin and end. These are not letters of divorce. They instead implore the churches to repent, to return, and to believe. Paul writes to the saints he loves, not the sinners he is finished with. He begins his letters with love and ends them in the same way. The book of Revelation is much the same. The whole purpose was to encourage the saints to righteousness in a context of hardship. The whole purpose was to remind the saints of their first calling -- to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Were we wise we would hear these prophetic utterances as addressed to us. Indeed, were we wise we would welcome the same from our own pastors and elders. We would know that as our sins are challenged from the pulpit, they are challenged that we might grow in grace. We would know that our pastors are piercing our hearts and rocking our consciences precisely because they love us. We would receive rebuke as we ought -- as kisses from a friend. That is precisely what they are, kisses, ultimately from the friend we have in Jesus. This is love, that our Savior has not only redeemed us but that He is also daily about the business of purifying us, making us a bride without spot or blemish. It's a painful process, but it has a glorious end."
What scripture did pastor preach on Sunday? Philippians 2:14-18
"14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16as you hold out[a] the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18So you too should be glad and rejoice with me."
He also mentioned the phrase "being real" and said that some could use this as an excuse to live as the world instead of pursuing holiness. (My paraphrasing - not a quote) I have been reading Steve Brown's "A Scandalous Freedom" and he talks about the masks that we wear for unbelievers, one in particular - purity. I have struggled with the "ruin your witness" mindset vs. "being real" and letting others know "Hey I'm a sinner too" - not hiding sin. As pastor pointed out we are told in the Bible to confess our sins one to another. I'm not sure of where I will end up on that but verse 15 is pretty clear about shining like stars in the universe. I just pray that I can be honest and, as a friend put it, still "pursue holiness".


Kim said...

The encouragement is that the Holy Spirit is indeed working in you and that is assuring. What if you never felt those pricks in the heart or if you ignored them? Conviction should be a joy as we know God is holding on to us and refusing to give us over to ourselves! Rejoice! You weren't the only one! :) Let's see what this Sunday brings!

andi said...

Love the disclaimer! :)
I am thankful for your wise heart that loves Truth!