Thursday, June 26

Wearing our new clothes.....

"What your corrupt nature wants is contrary to what your spiritual nature wants, and what your spiritual nature wants is contrary to what your corrupt nature wants. They are opposed to each other. As a result, you don't always do what you intend to do. If your spiritual nature is your guide, you are not subject to Moses' laws. Now, the effects of the corrupt nature are obvious: illicit sex, perversion, promiscuity, idolatry, drug use, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambition, conflict, factions, envy, drunkenness, wild partying, and similar things. I've told you in the past and I'm telling you again that people who do these kinds of things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:17-21 GWT

The power to love, above the sinful nature of the flesh to hate, is what we are called to reflect to the world because in doing so, we reflect the Christ. "Making that shift in thinking....[to give to rather than get from]....requires that the more basic elements in the [fallen personality] structure be disrupted and shattered." Dr. Larry Crabb states in his book Finding God in Chapter 11. The danger is not realizing the core root of this fallen structure is that we don't trust God to care for us, because then we gloss over our anger towards the unfilled needs that are not filled by others into a self-loathing of ourselves. Which is more destructive than the co-dependency of needing others for our fulfillment.

You were taught, with regard to Your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

Paul laid out for us the effects of our corrupted nature and we all can point to someone we know or sometimes even ourselves as imitators of such effects. This nature doesn't absolve itself into a gelatinous goo that we can then just wash off the walls of our heart when we accept in our soul the salvation gift, contrary to the popular notion of death/re-birth that the church tells us to believe happens instaneously when we whisper the words of acceptance.....our old self, blinded by our own selfishness and sin, does indeed get killed (unless we ourselves resurrect it). We no longer are bound by the acts of the pre-salvation nature. But, like an apendage that is cut off, we still feel the effects and reactions that comprised the corrupted nature. It is what the Devil uses in his attempt to decieve many a new Christian into becoming disenchanted by the seemingly lack of improvement in their immediate surroundings or within their mindset. Which supports our basic distrust of God's goodness and His ability to effectively care for our needs. Our new self was created to be righteous and holy, in accordance to the standards set and shown by God.

And, just like the 'new self' is to be put on, each day and with intentional living, so it is just as easy to put on that old set of clothes, the old corruptive nature, and follow the old, familiar paths. Each morning I start out my day with the intention to trust God's ability to fashion my day in a way that glorifies His Kingdom, and I struggle, sometimes, to keep on course with that. My spiritual mindset knows that God is real, good, holy, righteous, and just (to name a few) and that if that is all so, that He will fulfill through faithful execution of His love the promise of 'nothing but the best'. But, my physical mindset, corrupted by the reality of the world's brokenness and my own sinful nature, looks around me at the bills stacking on the desk, the car dented and bruised, squeaking me through yet another day, and the increasing stress of the future that is burdened by fog and uncertainity. My sinful nature cries out that God won't care, while my spiritual nature says God already has. When we allow ourselves to be overcome by our corrupt nature, then the laws of Moses apply and we fail. But, with faithful diligence, each time sin loses more and more that ability to be worn as an old set of clothes, because we grow stronger and more righteous, through the working of the Holy Spirit and in time, that sinful set of clothes no longer fits or is 'trendy'.

Josh Graves made a comment on one of his blog entries that if you don't like the spirituality of the Church, you should look to the spirituality of the Leadership. If you want to change it, then you have to change it within the leadership first. The Christian church seems to be in terminal stages of a cancer that is destroying the body from within. Ineffective leadership, false doctrine, universalism that is labeled "postmodernism", and a lure away from the Gospel have riddled the church body with division, mistruth, and a malady that has effectively curtailed many a ministry. Too often, though, we just change churches or just fade into the backdrop of the mega-church where we can hide just as effectively and be just as ineffective. After all, we don't want to preach absolute truth and the adherence to such doctrine.

That would be wrong.

Pastors who speak out against homosexuality fall, themselves victims of a corrupt structure that has them not relying on God but on their ability to deliver what they feel the congregation wants from them; be it a shining spiritual outer core, or an beautiufl and carefully balanced (so as not to offend) sermon to please the masses. Ministers live in expensive and fancy homes while many of their congregational members live below or at the poverty level and the world cries out for help in areas where devastation has reeked havoc in already extreme hard lives.

Size becomes a common topic on the table at the council meetings, leadership meetings, and directional meetings with scarce a willing ear to listen for God's purpose. Other minister's fall prey to the wonderful and large salary that comes their way as the congregation grows; not in spirit but in numbers. The Age of the Mega-church has blunted the powerful force of the Gospel. If you don't belong to the "Church of the latest thing", you're missing out. If you don't feel the emotion from the lofty voice of the melodic pastor, well must not be truly saved.

All in the name of saving the generation coming, where 3 out of 5 college aged young adults are leaving the church. The gospel accounts have been revamped, restyled, and reduced to try and be culturally sensitive to those who are leaving instead of remaining firm in the retelling and thereby providing an consistency that defies the ages.

We should always remember:

"I will remember the deeds of the LORD. I will remember your ancient miracles. I will reflect on all your actions and think about what you have done. O God, your ways are holy! What god is as great as our God?" Psalms 77:11-20

God's ability to take care of His will and His plan are legendary and unwavering. Instead of changing the gospel to meet society, we should be changing society to meet the gospel. And live it. And, by standing on the time-honored and absolute truths of the scriptures, we will save through the power of the Holy Spirit, the generations to come.

Look back at history and see what man changed, what was the result?

Look upon the Scripture accounts of the past, see what God said, and see what happened when man changed to follow the lessons taught, what was the result?

We have put on new, gaudy clothes that aren't what our new self should be wearing and called it 'christianity'.

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