By Rodney Kirkpatrick
June 21, 2010
I have been a somewhat frequent air traveler to many different parts of the world over the last fifteen years. Throughout this time I’ve seen so many different issues with flying that I’ve come to expect the possibility of something occurring that will cause a delay. While my tolerance for the unavoidable has grown significantly over time, a recent experience on a trip was particularly unjust. Throughout this experience I was amazed both at how skilled the employees were at passing responsibility to anyone other than themselves and how clear it was that excuses were a part of the company culture. Disappointed and mad I prayed about the situation and before I finished voicing my frustration to the Lord, He spoke to me that I would find the answer if I looked at one of the root causes to the same flaw in the Church.
Light is influence
One of the scriptures most relevant to the Body of Christ at this time is Matthew 5:14-16 (NASB) which says,
[pirenko_blockquote]14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”[/pirenko_blockquote]
Jesus refers here to a “light” that isn’t the traditional works of righteousness described elsewhere in scripture. First of all it represents an inescapable influence on the world because verse 14 tells us we “cannot be hidden.” Second, our influence can either be good or bad as the choice is made clear in verse 16. Third, verse 16 also tells us that the world generally follows what is being projected by the Church.
It is an awesome responsibility to know that the Lord Jesus has decided to work through the Church to bring His love and order to replace the chaos present in the world. It is also very sobering to think that the example of the Church is one of the primary means in accomplishing His plan.
A more complete application of the Grace of Jesus
As I meditated on the connection between the airline’s problems and the Church, He immediately impressed me with the subject of Grace. Titus 2:11-14 (NASB) gives several important observations concerning Grace:
[pirenko_blockquote]11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.[/pirenko_blockquote]
The fact that Grace “appeared” means that it didn’t originate from man and is fundamentally supernatural. Without this basic understanding it is too easy for Christians to move from the place of dependence on Christ to trust in their own strength and ability. Only Christ’s sacrificial death could grant us “salvation.” Jesus alone “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed.”
The “grace of God” not only saves us from the sin we’ve committed, but it also frees us from its grip. Through grace we can “deny ungodliness” in our every day lives and do “good deeds” that have the power to strengthen those who are weak.
It is clear that the second of these two aspects of His Grace is not present in the teaching and practice of much of the Church. I personally don’t recall hearing a teaching or sermon with Grace as the primary subject that linked it in any way with living “sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.” On the contrary it is common to hear teaching state that encouraging Christians to pursue a holy lifestyle is somehow opposed to the grace message. The “blessed hope” that His Grace gives us to no longer be ruled by lust, anger, deceit, etc. should be among the most celebrated and pronounced truths throughout the Church! When we embrace this we will no longer be a people who hides and projects an excuse mentality about sin to corporations and a world in general that is sorely in need of the standard of true responsibility.