Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Church and Our Culture, Part 2

This is from my sermon notes this Sunday.  I thought it went along with my previous post.  It is taken from Romans 16 and the greetings from several saints to the Romans church.  It included a evangelist/pastor, a wealthy man, a local civic official and two slaves among others.

Why are these several men's names recorded in the Bible? I think a case can be made that there is at least one good reason for these names to find themselves recorded in the Bible.  The early church was composed of members from all walks of life and all segments of society.  And more importantly they were involved in all aspects of society including the government.  We are given a snapshot of history.  We see the reality of Christian fellowship when a slave sends his greetings to brothers and sisters across the sea.  Some gave their house, some their money, some used their writing abilities for the sake of Christ.  The main point to make here is that the primitive church saw their mission to go unto all the world and permeate society, not run from it.  Ideas that separation from this world meant to run off to some place where you didn’t have to be around the lost came much later and has no biblical foundation.  Such thinking will have no real impact on the world and God might as well had removed us from the earth for all the good such thinking is doing.  In fact one of our elders alluded to 1 Cor. 5:9-10, "I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people--1Co 5:10  not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world."   Here, even though they were being persecuted and outlawed they still went about their work.  They didn’t see persecution or the perversion of society around them as an excuse to run and hide but as a cause to get involved with people’s lives.  At the end of the day we have to trust the power of God to keep his people close to him and not think that the only way to keep ourselves unspotted from the world is to hide from it or to physically separate ourselves from it.  I challenge you to show me where Christ or the early church taught or did it differently.  This of course is no excuse to be in places that would ruin our testimony or to allow the lost to influence us over Christ, but we are to separate our thinking and the way we live from the thinking and the way those who do not know Christ live.

Separation from this world refers to our lives given over to glorifying the Lord as opposed to living for self like the lost does.  It comes as the Word of God bears fruit in our lives.  Walling ourselves up in a monastery or living in a hut deep in the woods won't make you holy.  In fact, I would think that having to learn to live for Christ among the lost would be more effective, both for us and them!  Knowing that they are watching you and listening to your words and waiting to see if you live what you confess would do more to drive us to the Word and prayer than thinking that bodily distance from a lost person can make you more holy.

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