It feels almost like the blink of an eye – the year is rapidly coming to a close and a new one, Lord willing, will soon dawn upon us. Did you ever think you would make it this far? Have you considered that it is all due to the grace of God that you are here now?
Hopefully, you have. And hopefully, you will have been reminded that life is like ‘vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away (Jas 4:14).’ Time is a luxury, our most precious commodity. We cannot afford to waste time, for it is wasting life. It is about time the church is roused from its self-induced slumber.
David said, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good (Psa 14:1).” For the longest time there have been men and women who disregard God. They deny His existence and reject His Being. Paul listed the tragic consequences of men’s failure to take God seriously (cf. Rom 1:18-32).
The concern of this article is not so much with the lost of the world but with those in the church, among God’s children, who do not take Him seriously. The following are some examples for us to take special care.
We are not discussing those who forsake the assembly (cf. Heb 10:25) but those who may be physically present but whose hearts are far away – tardiness, dozing during Bible classes and worship, fiddling with electronic devices, answering phone calls, talking to neighbours and so on.
Worship must be in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Mere physical presence simply does not guarantee either the right attitude or worship according to the New Testament pattern. “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men (Isa 29:13).”
We may not be teaching the precept of men over the truth of God, but nonetheless our hearts may be far from Him though we are physically present at the assembling place. This is playing church.
Quick question: whose responsibility is it to spread the gospel? If your answer is “every Christian”, well, congratulations. We all know the textbook answer and might even quote Mat 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-16. But let us double check if in reality, we behave as if evangelism is the elders and evangelists’ exclusive responsibility.
Ask ourselves: when was the last time we took the opportunity (there are plenty, I assure you) to share the gospel? Or participate in the corporate evangelism program of the local congregation? I don’t mean once-a-year participation just so we could try to convince our own conscience that we have done it. I mean evangelising the community together on a regular basis.
Let us take evangelism as seriously as the Lord means for us to take it.
Closing an Eye to Sin
Nobody enjoys being the bad guy, isn’t it? When we know a brother or sister is doing something displeasing to the Lord, we would rather someone else (usually the preacher or elder) to raise the matter with the erring one while we either feign ignorance or talk behind their backs.
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us (2Th 3:6; cf. 1Ti 6:5).”
God forbid that we do so out of self-righteousness. This commandment is given so that firstly, the leaven of sin does not leaven the whole lump (1Co 5:6-7) and secondly, so that the erring one might see the error of his way and come to repentance (cf. 2Co 2:5-7; 7:9-10).
This is what we must do when it comes to our attention that a brother or sister has sinned. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted (Gal 6:1).”
“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins (Jas 5:19-20).”
2015 is fast approaching. The time is now for us to take God seriously. Where we have not put in our utmost effort, let us do better and give Him the glory.