Monday, May 7, 2012

Concerning Excuses... Concerning Repentance...


I'm Sorry
Just recently a friend of mine introduced me to a couple that he had known for several years. After the introductions were over they were eager to share with me their reasons for not being faithful church-goers. There were many, but the main one being a lack of concern by the church for their welfare. That could mean several things but I did not have to speculate for they were quick to say that no one visited them which spurred their decision to not attend corporate worship. Again, circumstance at the time may have played a part in that churches decision to not communicate, so I will not speculate too much. But I will say there seems to be far too many excuses that people engineer to cover up their lack of personal responsibility and fervor in coming before the Lord to worship. In this case they could have pestered the church for financial gifts over-and-over till the church was overwhelmed. There could have been a word said that they took the wrong way, or even the right way, and it became a reason for offence. Or they simply could have become bored, etc... Surely the church needs to do their best to love as Jesus loves and to put the needs of others ahead of their own (Rom. 15:1). But I do not wish to always place the blame on the church. Sometimes the reason is simply that other things have captured the attention of the individual.

The bottom line is this, “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12 (NKJV) Having said that, it is clear that excuses abound and that all of us will be accountable before the Lord for every one we proffer. The question to ask is, “Will my excuse hold water before a Holy God?” That is, will they stand on their own? To be sure, Paul’s admonition is to both parties, the offender and the offended. Again, all of us will give account. The very next verse makes it clear that the church is to do everything possible to NOT give a reason for people to stumble. “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.” Romans 14:13 (NKJV) That passage covers both bases teaching that we are to walk in love toward all people remembering that we are accountable to God as His representatives on earth.

So what is the answer? It could very well be that the reason we do not see genuine revival in our land and in our churches is because of us. Maybe we are the reason to blame. The majority of people in Christianized cultures have at one time or another been a member of a church or they have attended services at one time or another in their lives. One of the ways to breach this gap of reaching those who stand on a foundation of excuses is reconciliation. Since it is Christ who has reconciled us to Himself shouldn't we reconcile ourselves to each other? (see 2 Cor. 5:18, Philemon 1:18) Wouldn’t it be novel if our efforts toward reaching the community around us with the awesome Good News of the substitutionary work of Christ and eternal salvation for all who believe, would begin with us reaching the churched? What if your congregation fell on their faces before God and genuinely repented as a church. I mean a pact by the whole congregation to go to those that have been offended in the past with a message of repentance and love, asking forgiveness for any past actions that have caused the divide? “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV) What does our gifts of worship and resources mean before a Holy God if we are not genuinely living in His love?

Maybe I do not need to say more. But surely we as the church should take the first steps. I believe if we did then the Lord would take care of the result. In doing the above, I believe the church could then go full swing into “New Evangelism.” With a fresh heart and a clear conscience we could then trust the Lord to give the increase.

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