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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Friday, January 25, 2008
Oh How Splendid We Are - Part II
In my previous post I mentioned a passage from Ezekiel that is often understood to be a description of what Satan's fall looked like. The prophet is certainly comparing the king of Tyre to a very exalted angel who fell, and I think it is no stretch to presume the comparison is being made to Satan. The comparison Ezekiel uses tells us in comparative language exactly how God regards the King of Tyre - the passage is certainly about him - but because every comparison is compared against something - we end up learning a lot about Satan's fall secondhand as it were. It is good to remember that the verse is about the King of Tyre - but it would be a matter of very poor discretion to therefore ignore what scripture teaches us about Satan's sin.

Typically, the distillation of this passage that I most often hear in sermons or conversation is that pride was behind Satan's sin therefore we should be on guard against pride so that we don't likewise fall. That is, of course, a very sound conclusion - but perhaps in the Spirit there is room for more instruction. Time will tell.

When I last read that, I began to meditate on what it means to corrupt one's wisdom. First I am careful both to see the relationship between wisdom and intelligence, and to keep what distinguishes them clear in my understanding. Wisdom is like the arm that wields the sword of intelligence. A very sharp and well balanced sword will cut - even if wielded by an unskilled and weak arm. A very powerful and proficient arm will be able to cut with even a dull and clumsy sword. One could extend the metaphor I suppose to war. A cunning general can make great use of even a small band of soldiers, but a dimwitted general will require a large army to do anything of substance. Satan corrupted his wisdom and in doing so compromised his ability to make sound decisions.

The student (studying to be a doctor) who routinely cheats on his exams may well become a doctor one day, but his short term success will only result in long term failure. The exams are not meaningless hurdles to be vaulted over (in any way possible) as one hurries headlong to their doctorate - they are opportunities to demonstrate to one's self and one's instructors that one is fit for the same office one is ascending to. Wisdom causes good students prepare for the job, and lack of wisdom allows bad students to reach for things they are by no means prepared to receive. Their desire to "receive the prize" becomes more important to them than whether or not they deserve the prize. Their wisdom is corrupt - they believe that because they desire a thing it doesn't matter whether they deserve it or not, what matters is that they receive it.

Now we have a lot to learn from such things I think, on a personal level. There is certainly room for each of us to examine our own desires and see how they corrupt our wisdom - for as sure as there was a yesterday they do, and there is much to be gained should we do so - but today I was thinking more about a corporate, congregational application.

When our Pastor resigned in July, we lost a few of the adherants who had been coming to our church. You know the sort, they haven't plugged into the church yet, but they have plugged into the pastor. They have no connection to the core people, but they like to hear the pastor speak. When he steps down, suddenly they have no connection to the church. They want to follow the pastor, and if he isn't preaching somewhere, they go elsewhere in the hope of finding some new person to listen to on Sunday mornings. We are a small congregation, and not immune to this phenomenon. Our core group hasn't dwindled one whit since our pastor resigned, if anything it has grown a little - and I consider that a good thing (the growth of the core). Yet some may well be concerned in seeing the rust fall from the iron because it means a loss of weight to the whole, and in this I see the application of this passage in Ezekiel to whole congregations.

How many congregations compare themselves with the big church over there? They talk about how big and new and fancy their building is, what a magnificent audio and video set up they have, their gymnasium, their bookstore, their school, their city-wide sunday school program, etc. etc. They also compare themselves doctrinally - that church is only big because it is shallow and catering to the world, and we are small because we refuse to do that! Sounds like the Pharisee praying beside the tax collector to me. Thank you God that we are not a big church filled with people and riches and shallow worship and bad doctrine - thank you God that we are not like that, but are instead solemn and faithful ...

You see, if in your heart you compare your small church to the megachurch and find your church wanting, you are looking at your own splendor, such as it is, instead of looking to the Lord, and when you do that you corrupt your wisdom just as surely as if your church was magnificent. You really do. You corrupt it in this way - you are beginning to forget who is building the church - Jesus.

Scripture doesn't teach us to turn every church into own own personal tower of Babel, but there is a corrupt wisdom out there that does. I would write more, and I want to, but my time is limited. Whether you find yourself in a big congregation or a puny one - it's Christ's congregation. When a multitude of disciples turned away from following Jesus (at the end of John chapter six), though the numbers went down in a drastic way, yet Christ hadn't lost a single soul - it was just the falling away of rust. It wasn't that Jesus lost them, it was that they were never His in the first place, His teaching revealed -that- to them when they found themselves no longer able to enjoy what He was saying.

Looking at the splendor of our congregation and comparing it with the splendor of other congregations whether our comparison is about numbers, holiness, elders, young people, or any dynamic you can imagine - it is all vanity. God gives the growth, our job as individuals and congregationally is to keep our eyes off ourselves and on the Lord. Amen?
posted by Daniel @ 6:16 AM  
  • At 10:55 AM, January 25, 2008, Blogger Even So... said…

    Yes, amen.

  • At 12:00 PM, January 25, 2008, Blogger Strong Tower said…

    Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding...And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them...For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another...For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong...Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content...Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world...These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage...Psalm 16...Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.

    Well, nuff said...

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