Tuesday, December 05, 2006

BEDRIDDEN BELIEVERS

By Paul Proctor
NewsWithViews.com

Driving across town the other day, I passed by a church that always displays an inspirational message on their sign out front. Such messages are very common these days and often quite thought provoking. The one I saw most recently had me thinking all the way home.

It read: "Churches are hospitals for sinners, not museums for saints."

How sad and true, I thought to myself. Churches have become hospitals for sinners, haven't they? They used to be spiritual fortresses built in enemy territory where soldiers for Christ were recruited, trained and equipped for doing battle against sin and evil in society with open bibles, convicted hearts and committed lives.

Today, they're largely filled with bedridden believers who pass the time in and out small group therapy, languishing over their ills and misfortunes – forever discussing their aches and pains with anyone who'll listen – lying around moaning and groaning about daily discomforts, inconveniences and "felt needs" while being coddled and cried over by other patients waiting for their turn to be coddled and cried over – each looking at the clock and growing increasingly impatient that their pastor/physician has yet to make his appointed rounds, hold their hand and tell them what a wonderful and courageous patient they've been.

You see, the last thing they want to hear him say is: "Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way…" because their hospital has become, for the most part, an eternal resting place and refuge from responsibility.

In Ephesians 6:11, Paul tells us to "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

Notice he didn't say: "Put on your hospital gown, lie down and wait quietly for your pastor to come by with his prognosis."

Unfortunately, many of us have been convinced by our seeker sensitive friends that struggling through the Christian life means shuffling up and down the hallways of our hospital from treatment to treatment, shaking hands and exchanging sympathies and smiles with others we pass along the way. These patient's greatest fear is separation from their lunch trays, bedpans and heart monitors and being sent back out onto the battlefield to face real opposition. If we could hear their thoughts, I’m sure they might sound something like:

"It's dangerous out there and we're just not up to it yet! Besides, we have our health, finances, self-esteem and social status to think of."

No, lets just raise more money, add on another wing and bring in more beds and TVs because the need is great and the world is a perilous place. And, let's remember: A full hospital is a happy hospital! We're much better off investing our time in learning how to get along with the enemy, keep the peace and avoid confrontation. Let's try to keep it positive, shall we, even if it means hiding the truth about sin and Hell. Because taking a public stand against unbiblical things in today's world might offend somebody and hurt our overall standing in the community, which of course, would be hard on the numbers and cost us valuable prospects. And, after all, we DO want our lovely hospital to continue growing and prospering in the community, don't we? So, let's make sure no one confuses it with a mighty fortress where, Heaven forbid, saints are seen bearing armor and swords and preparing for war.

That just wouldn't be very Christian, now would it?

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…" – Ephesians 6:12-17

© 2004 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved

10 Comments:

Anonymous Gigi said...

Great piece, great stuff, so true.

I think the blame partially rests on the evangelical church as a whole, which retreated from the general culture for many decades, and allowed itself to get fat, happy, removed, and uninvolved in the battle.

This inattention to the purpose for its existence has inevitably led to what we see today: the church has beeb infiltrated by the very world it was running from for most of the 20th century. Today, the political correctness is killing it.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So true Gigi, great article Paul.

Sadly so many think that having our churches as hospitals for sinners is a good thing. They think they are doing such a good work and are being so helpful and loving. However, they don't see they are failing to equip the saints to share the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ which is the only real help for any sinner.

My church,(which is all wrapped up in this seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven mess)just recently showed a video clip of how wonderful they all were in helping out a man who was recently released from prison. On the surface this may look like a good thing, like an obedient thing, like a Christlike thing. However as this man spoke, everything was about what the church did for him. How he spent hours and days hanging around the church and how they made him feel accepted. How he was grateful to them and how his thinking about himself had changed. There was no mention from this man about any conviction of the Holy Spirit that he was a sinner in need of the Savior. There was no mention of how the church led him to salvation through the finished work of Jesus Christ or that they even shared His message with him. It left me feeling very sad for this man and for the state of my church, and when you say something about this very sad truth you are viewed as an enemy, as someone interfering with a great work of God.

But it seems that nothing is really about God anymore it's really all about them and the church because that seems to be where all the glory and praise goes anymore.

I'm just so thankful God brought me out of the depths of despair and into a saving relationship with Him before all this watered down, politically correct "gospel" sharing became so popular. I wonder how many are sitting in our church thinking they are saved when they are not, because they never have understood their real need in the first place. -CT

Matthew 7:13-29; Luke 13:22-30

3:15 PM  
Blogger David said...

Love the post -- blogged on it myself!

1:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow CT! Well said.

What an excellent example of what happens in too many churches. Keep letting people know about that example in light of what you compared it to. Thanks!

-KCO

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think churches should considerably more than they are but hopefully not less. I can't imagine at times a church should not function as a hospital and at times should sit back and remember the deeds of the saints as well but all and always to honor the savior. Elliot Green when asked what is the best way to have a healthy church said, "Do as the Father does and place Christ at the center of everything. The thermometer of the healthy church is how the people speak of one another." I am in full agreement however that we will not encounter the risen Savior if we ignore the Word given through the apostles and prophets as we have in the Scriptures.
Hank

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Been there done that said...

hank said, "The thermometer of the healthy church is how the people speak of one another"

I have to disagree with this one. I have just come out of a seeker church and unity of relationships was everything...over scripture truth,doctrine, etc. I was told that how we think of each other is more important than truth of scripture. Because we are all sinners.

See, you can only get huge numbers with 'relationships' so everything is geared toward the 'result' of getting more people. You can't keep people without relationships. So everything revolves around people and their felt needs.

It was really promoted to not 'critisize' anyone. Meaning...never disagree. Because, you see, once they are here long enough, they will believe truth. But what was the truth? It was never taught! So everyone is just having a grand old time at the social club that masquerades as a church.

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Hank,

Good points made and true. However, I think at this time in the church in America our first concern and question ought to be "How well do they speak of the TRUTH ? ".

Many churches practice speaking well of each other without the first requirement from the Lord, i.e. "to love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, MIND", etc. Loving God with our mind includes loving the accurate, doctrinal TRUTH of scripture and standing for and proclaiming it. Once this is sought after, then and only then can we properly follow the second greatest command, to love one another. The preceding post from Martin Lloyd Jones explains this point well.
-KCO

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truly we must speak the truth but I am reminded of the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:15&16 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-Christ from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. I realize there will be those whose definition of love is not God's and I am NOT referring to that but rather to the realization that the Church is an organism (not organization) and the love of God extends to us in our sins, (Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.), and that love should extend through us also to the lost and deceived. John says that one who says he loves God but does not love his brother is a liar, I John 4:20. I am calling no one a liar but I will say this verse makes me very reticent to judge others as non believers even when I am convinced they are incorrect in some of their doctrine. If there is one concern I have, it is that I will be so quick to see another's sin that I fail to see my own. Jesus told us not to judge lest we be judged; yet He parenthesized that by saying if one cleans his own eye, he can see clearly to help another to clean his. I do not say we are to allow lies to be taught with impunity but if our rebuke of the lie does not come from a humble heart that has a love for the body, Ephesians 4,15 and the deceived driving it it, can and likely will be used by Satan to divide the body rather than heal it. In Titus 3:8-11 Paul warns of the divisive spirit, "This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned. I do not believe Paul is saying the Law is useless or worse evil. He has said elsewhere it is good. Nor are we to avoid revealing the lie for what it is, but I am convinced humility is the attitude God requires of us. I think there God will lead us so we do not pull up wheat that looks like tares.
Hank

12:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen Hank!

I didn't see your latest comments until today. Those scripture passages clarify and bring a proper balance. I know you have a correct perspective on these issues and thanks for bringing it to the table. It's just frustrating sometimes to see so many with a lot of love and little truth. Many times they are fooled by their emotions and are lacking an intellectual understanding of the one true God revealed in the Bible. I want to help them...out of LOVE.
-KCO

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Ken. I am convinced the error of any man is to judge God rather than acknowledge God's judgment. I am certain I was guilty of that as a young Christian and set the stage for many years of foolish behavior. At this stage of my life if I have anything to give it is the realization that only God is good all the time. My desire is to be a salt and light to both the believer and the unbeliever and realize as well that I am in need of the Spirits leading as any other and possibly more. I say this because if I have the truth, Satan hates me a little more than he did when I didn't and I must rely on The Holy Spirit as I failed to do when I thought God was being unfair. I wonder if the reason some of these leaders in the seeker sensitive churches are not making that same error if indeed they are believers. At any rate thank you for being the sharpening iron and for being willing to hear and old foolish. (as apposed to unregenerate fool)
Hank

8:20 AM  

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