Losing Our Focus
"Churches more driven by culture than directed by Scripture are leading precious souls to hell" (Bobby Witherington, Truth Magazine, Vol. 43, p. 9, January 7, 1999).
The above quote by brother Witherington gets to the heart of the matter. When we see churches that are more concerned about their place in this world than in their standing with God, something is wrong! Unfortunately, there are untold numbers of people who are more willing to follow the world's standard rather than God's. When we see churches who wish to "appeal to the masses," they have lost sight of what their focus ought to be! We see far too many "churches" (translation: social clubs) who are more interested in "numbers" than they are souls!
Don't misunderstand, certainly each person has a soul, and they are important. However, there is a tendency among "churches" to do "whatever it takes" in order to get people squeezed into a building! If this means that they make an appeal to the outer, rather than the inner man in order for them to come, then so be it! This is wrong. When the apostles taught people, they continually pointed people to Christ. Wherever Paul went, this was true (I Cor. 2:5, 4:17). When the Colossian letter was written, Paul reminded those brethren of their goal, their focus in this life: "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory" (Col. 3:1-4).
The problem is in an age of "political correctness" and in an age where the only intolerance tolerated is intolerance against God and Christians; some "churches" are falling into the snare of their culture. We see far too many, even among our own brethren, who would rather be politically correct than spiritually correct! There are some who cringe at the idea of a preacher preaching against denominationalism or worldliness. They are repulsed that one would dare speak as the Bible speaks and name those who are teaching falsehoods and the result of their false teaching (I Pet. 4:11; Eph. 5:11; II Tim. 2:16-18). As a result, you cannot tell these places apart from the denominations! Of course, we see far too many calling themselves Christians who are acting exactly like the world! How sad!
We understand that as long as people are in the world, the world will have an influence. But, the point of being in the Lord's church is that we have been "called out" (ekklesia) of the world, and the Lord has put us into His church (Acts 2:47). Paul stated that God "hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Col. 1:13). Seeing that this is true, true Christians will not act as the world acts, speak as the world speaks, or think as the world thinks! God has called us to be a "peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Tit. 2:14; I Pet. 2:9).
When people cannot see Christ living in us, we are showing that our culture has more of an influence on us than Christ does (Gal. 2:20).
Many great industries have fallen because they lost their focus. As soon as Ford, Chevrolet, or GM lose sight of the fact that they are in the transportation business, they will fold. In like manner, when this church loses sight of the fact that we are in the soul-saving business, then we will fall into apostasy!
Brethren, let us not lose sight of the goal of Heaven, and let us not lose our focus as to what God intends for us to do. Let us be satisfied to be the Lord's people in this community, and let us not be ashamed when we are called upon to "root out," "to pull down," "to destroy, and to throw down" the false doctrines and practices of men. Let us then be ready "to build, and to plant" when the ground is then ready (Jer. 1:10). Those who are more concerned in "cultural" standards soon forget that preaching the Word requires reproving, rebuking and exhorting "with all longsuffering and doctrine" (II Tim. 4:2).
May we never be guilty of this, but may we stand with Paul and say, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ" (Rom. 1:16).
Friend, have you lost your focus and lost sight of your goal? I hope not. Let us "love one another with a pure heart fervently" (I Pet. 1:22). Let us show our love to Christ by being obedient to His will (Jn. 14:15; I Jn. 5:3). Let us, once we have followed His word, teach God's word to others that they might know the truth and that their souls might be saved (Acts 1:1; II Tim. 2:2; I Tim. 4:16). Let us remember that the church is in the soul-saving business, and must not kneel to the whims of culture in a vain attempt at popularity.
By Jarrod Jacobs Via Gospel Anchor, March 1999
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