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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The World Does Not Love Us

John 15:18-19 (ESV) 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

The Church laments its current status. There are many people who remember when the church was considered sacred in the world. They remember that schools, sports teams, civic leagues and other organizations would not consider holding meetings, practices or games at traditional church event times. They remember when the church determined what was considered moral. They remember when certain words were not said on television or even on stage. They remember when the church could "bully" any business, political organization or media. They remember when solid church attendance was good for business. They remember when bosses looked at church attendance as a sign of good moral fiber.

Those days are gone. The Church is not pointing its finger at its leaders with an accusation that they did not preach the gospel well enough. Many are pointing at the lethargy of church members and proclaiming that this is now how it used to be. They point at the participation in the past's programs. People are glorifying the past with the hope of repeating it.

I read an article recently which blamed all of these as the reasons the Church is experiencing decline. A church growing more from the non-churched than the already connected-to-church is extremely rare. Growing churches get most of their growth from membership transfers from other churches and the baptism of their own children. Even those who baptize high numbers are often having their baptism numbers boosted by people transferring from churches which do not traditionally immerse when baptizing.

So, while everyone is pointing fingers I would like to propose a different premise. I would like to point out that the world hates us because it hates Jesus. I would like to point out that this never changed because we are not of the world. The world hated us even as they were complying with the morality of the church. The world hated us even when it begrudgingly came to church because it was good for business. The world hated us even when it was forced to keep the smut off the airways.

Nothing has changed nor will change without an awakening or revival. Pointing out the past will not change the people of today. Lamenting over the present condition alone will not cause people to make a difference in the world. There is a reason that Jesus told His disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit.

The love the church thought it had when people were making their way to church every Sunday was never real. Hatred was veiled behind it. The world waited until it could respond with all the things which had been suppressed. That time has come. That is why so much is changing so rapidly. That is why homosexuality is considered a lifestyle rather than a sin. That is why there is very little thought to abortion. That is why the church no longer deals with unmarried couples living together, having children together or even swapping partners every once in a while.

The Church wants the world to love her. It will change the gospel and appeal to love when excusing sinfulness. It will overuse the story of the woman caught in adultery to overlook anything going on within the church. The Church acts like the mistress who has been replaced by a younger, prettier woman. She will do anything to get her lover back.

The world will never love the Church.

The Church must cry out to God like God's people have done so many times in the past. We, the Church, must ask Him to send the Holy Spirit into the Church. We must ask without holding anything back. We must remember the story of the Rich, Young Ruler and determine that his fate is not to be ours.

My cry is not to change the status of the Church to be like it was in a past when people were pretending to love her. My prayer is for a revival. My prayer is for believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit. My prayer is for the saved to crave holiness. My prayer is for "the presence of God" to be more than a phrase said in every church.

I don't like being hated but I do not want to comply with the world in an effort to obtain the world's love either.

Isn't it strange that we so often pay more attention to the world who doesn't love us rather than Jesus who has never stopped loving us?


Anonymous said...

Soooo, could you explain again why th world felt compelled to pretend to love us in the 50s and 50s (Yes, I remember.), but no longer feels compelled to love us now?

You said something like "the world waited until it could resond with all of the things it had suppressed."

Which is true, of course. But what happened that let the world know the wait was over?

Since you said that change could only happen with a true revival. Does that mean that the reason the world quit "waiting" was because believers hearts turned cold?

And, if so, why did that happen?

Or is there a different reason that you think the world felt free to reveal it's true self?


Anonymous said...

I want to air a little balanced perspective to what has been said.  But before that, I want to praise those like Ps Prentis who intercede for revival and awakening of the Church.  And I fully agree with Ps Prentis that the church must not transform itself to conform to what the world wants.  Scripture in Rom 12:2 exhorts us not to conform to the ways of the world but to seek to be transformed by the renewal of our mind, so that we may know what is the good and perfect will of God. Collectively, as the Church, she too, must be after the good and perfect will of God, and carry herself accordingly.

Having said the above, everything is not gloom and doom, and we must not lose hope.  In history, there was often a remnant of those still after the good and perfect will of God; and so, in the world, there are always those who are for God, or in this NT era, those in the world but are truly no longer of the world.  Yes, we are in the world, but in the world there are those of the world, and they are large or larger in number, and but there are those not of the world, in the world.  We should want to be reminded of the account of Elijah's period of despair, when he thought there were none of his kind left, when in fact, there were a few hundred kept safe by the LORD.

We should also want to be reminded by the words of perseverance such as those by the Apostle Paul, as in 2 Cor 4:8-10 -

8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

It should not surprise us, that even as God's desire is for all men to be saved, there would be more of those of the world, in the world than those not of the world. Scripture revealed to us that few would travel the narrow road and pass through the narrow gate that leads to life; whereas many are those who travel the broad road and pass through the wide gate that leads to death.  For us, our renewed mind must be that, all of these "assaults" must not be allowed to waver us, for Scripture said if we waver, we cannot expect to get anything from God.

Those of the world, in the world, may hate the Church (or those not of the world), but there is no complete absence of love.  Those who are truly the sons of God (1) are led the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:14) and so, it is very correct for Ps Prentis to cry for the greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and that believers be led by the Spirit, and (2) love God and so, Jesus (John 8:42), and so, their brothers and sisters -  1 John 4:21.  The Church is in the world, for we are the Church and we are in the world, there is love in the Church (we love) and love is also to go outside of the Church.  


Anonymous said...

Cont. From above

I am not saying there is no hatred of the world towards the Church, on the contrary, there bound to be (hatred), for those of the world are controlled by the Enemy of God. Scripture said that no servant is above his master, and so, what the enemy did to the master, the enemy would not hesitate to do the same to the servants or us all.  In like vein, the enemy hated Jesus, Jesus said the enemy too, would hate us, his disciples.  Now, I believe the intent of the Lord or Scripture is not to discourage us or suggest we walk around with a defeated spirit; rather it is to warn us, and prepare us to face what is to be common which we will face while we are still in the world.  The point is that Satan has always been there, in the world  creating havoc.  It may be true that Satan is growing more desperate and is attempting to fight back, still there is no need to despair, for He who is within us or the Church, is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

That the world is creeping into the Church, even as the Church is to enlarge into the world, are we as members of the Church beyond blame?  I am not saying there are easy solutions to what the Church is finding herself facing, but we just cannot absolve ourselves from responsibilities that God placed on the Church; it is not as simple as "blame it on Satan or the world", or that "it is all God's part-what"!  For one thing, the Church has been complacent, despite the warnings from Scripture.  There has been growing superficiality in the Church, even as she grows; this, there's enough bother about it, or is it many who can influence, are not bothered enough!? False teachings are rampant, and many amongst us, just take the attitude that Scripture said so-what - in the end times, there would be people with itchy ears who would gather and be gathered to false teachers; sign of time-what, just accept it!  Please, it is more than just a sign of time, it is to be a warning too; told to us ahead to get us to prepare to confront it.  Instead, bit by bit, we allow filth in, just sweep everything under the carpets (please, there are always people having the responsibility over the carpets/gates; maybe they are failing in their duties),  If we do not stand up for God and His Word, apparently, thinking that God would look after Himself and His Word, and we be nonchalant about the erosion of  the place of the ways of the Kingdom in the various spheres of life, who is to be blame? Too many of us are too selfish, and shortsighted, thinking that it is alright that the fire is on the neighbors' houses. Don't cry when the fire jumps and burn up your house!

I am not advocating we take up arms and kill those who hate us or who are our enemy; the bible does not teach that, but the bible does tell us how we are to live our lives.  Are we bothered enough to live as prescribed, even when our next door neighbor isn't bothered?

Anthony Chia, high.expressions - the least we can do, is for ourselves to seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, and pray and intercede; would you do that?

Prentis McGoldrick said...

Commenting on Deb's questions: There are two generations of Christians. The first generation came to know Christ because of the Holy Spirit. They walked with the Lord faithfully. They became like Him. They led their children to know Christ.
However, these 2nd generation (please note that I am speaking in huge generalities. Some people will not fall into this category even though their parents led them to Christ at a young age.) Christians were more superficial. They did not know the real change that comes from knowing sin because their parents led them to Christ at early ages. They often do not have any acts of faith which reveal true faith in Christ. They are believers but they do not tithe, do now witness and lead secular lives outside of the church. They come to church because it is what their parents wanted them to do. It becomes habit rather than relationship. They get their own children to say the sinners prayer and get dunked in the water but they have no faith because this 3rd generation has watched their parents live lives which do not reflect things much different from the world. They are not saved. They do not see any obligation to follow the morals of the church, the Bible or their parents. The population ages, the younger ones multiply and morals thus change.

Anonymous said...

Ps Prentis, while I understand your comment against Deb's comment, I note that you regarded the 2nd generation as believers (saved or not?), and you regarded the 3rd as not saved (believer or not?)

The difference between the 2nd and 3rd is only that the former got to see their parents' living the kingdom living, and the latter, did not.  How is this difference material enough to put one generation as believers or saved, and not the other, when both said the Sinner's Prayer or were baptized without truly knowing the significance of their "entry" into salvation?  Baptism as a child, without the requisite understanding makes the child a believer?  My own view is that those who are born to Christian parents, should, even if they were baptized as a child, make that conscious cross-over with correct underlying understanding and significance.  Even if as a child they have said the Sinner's Prayer, they should be encouraged to do a formal rededication of their lives to the Lord.  If they have been baptized as a child, if they want to, church should perform baptism for them again.

I personally do not encourage baptism of under aged children, but I do understand that under certain circumstances, we may still decide to give in to a parent's request for the baptism of his or her child.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

PS: Both my kids were born into a Christian family, I was a Christian before they were born.  Still, they both at some stage in their teenage lives, with correct understanding, made the informed decision to enter into salvation, and then subsequently baptized, again  with the requisite understanding. I believe this way is the best approach, so that effectively everyone is a "first-hand believer", and not a believer by virtue of their parentage.

Prentis McGoldrick said...

You ask a very pertinent question. Are 2nd generation believers actually believers? I don't know. I waver on this. I wonder if they are merely complying with the expected action publically rather than living out an internal faith.