To Whom Much Is Given - Part 2
To Whom Much Is Given II
People do come to God with various preconceived ideas about all sorts of things. If we are going to become a Christian and if our friends are going to become Christians, then together we must readjust our thinking and priorities about a good number of things. Paul said, "We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). When Paul became a Christian he had to face up to the fact that so many of the things upon which he had placed such a high value, where worthless in the sight of God (Philippians 3:4-8). God has not given any of us the right to create our own version of Christianity and neither is Christianity a potluck religion in which you can pick and chose the practices or doctrines which suit your own personal tastes and discard everything else (Revelation 22:18-19). Simon, a former sorcerer had to face the fact that the power to impart the Holy Spirit could not be purchased with money (Acts 8:18-24).
Adorn The Doctrine
"Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect" (Titus 2:9-10).
The word adorn means to put in proper order, hence to decorate or garnish. One lexicon says, "Do credit to, that they may do credit to the teaching in all respects" (Arndt p. 445). Notice the following ways that this verse is translated, "for in all such ways they add luster to the doctrine" (NEB); "as to recommend the teaching about God our Saviour by all that they do" (TCNT); "that altogether they shall beautify the teaching"(Ber). Christians can by their attitude and way they implement God’s instructions, demonstrate to a skeptical world how wise and attractive such instructions are. Through Paul, God says that the church manifests His wisdom (Ephesians 3:10-11), and even in the Old Testament, God said to Israel through Moses, that the Laws that He had given them would impress honest hearts in the surrounding nations, "So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people… For what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?" (Deuteronomy 4:6-8).
- Singing: We are going to encounter people who are going to be greatly disappointed that congregational worship in the New Testament church does not include instrumental music, choirs or soloists (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). There are people who have their hearts set on singing to the accompaniment of an organ, listening to a band, or standing before the congregation and singing a solo. We must remind them that God specified the type of music He wants, and worship is all about pleasing Him (1 Peter 2:5). Such alternatives to singing displace the glory from God to men. When we worship God our attitude should be one of wanting to do what is His delight, and His delight is that we obey His instructions (1 Samuel 15:22-23). Yet such people can still use their musical talents, for example there is a great need for people who have the musical talent of being able to write new songs or compose melodies for such songs. Many of the Psalms in the Old Testament could be sung, if someone would just write an appropriate melody for them. There is a need for such talented people to be able to teach other Christians how to sing and train future song leaders. We can really adorn God’s teaching concerning singing if we all sing from the heart, seek to improve our singing skills, be constantly looking for new spiritual songs, and really think about the songs we select for worship services and for each aspect of worship. In modern times, the wisdom of God specifying singing can be seen in what has happened in the denominational world. Obeying God’s instructions on this point has kept the church from becoming lured into the entertainment business, and one major complaint heard among many denominations is that the "Christian" music industry is increasingly looking and sounding just like the world.
- Excitement In Worship: Some people will be disappointed that during our worship services we aren’t clapping our hands, dancing, or some thing else. We can counter this by saying a hearty "Amen" when we really agree with a topic being said (1 Corinthians 14:16). We can embrace those just baptized; we can express the truth with feeling, and can pray fervently from the heart and express specific needs in the congregation. We can hug those who are mourning, say truly meaningful things while serving Lord’s Supper or collecting the contribution and we can preach with enthusiasm and conviction. We need to prove to the world that God’s directions for worship in the New Testament provide the framework for the expression of true devotion and that we don’t need any fads to make our worship meaningful. God’s wisdom is also seen in this area. The danger with depending on the latest fad to make your own worship seem meaningful, is that what stirs your heart this year will require something else next year. And that people can end up worshipping a particular human innovation rather than worshipping God. God wants us to love Him with our entire being(Matthew 22:37), and He has given us the proper outlet for our emotions, that is worship in Spirit must also be worship in Truth, our emotions and feelings must be channeled into the particular style or manner of worship that God desires (John 4:24). As we noted above when it comes to music in worship, God wants it to be from the heart (Ephesians 5:19), and be expressed in the specific form of singing.
- Social Things: People can be disappointed that the work of the church does not include providing social and recreational activities, such as church kitchens, fellowship halls, gyms, family life centers, and so on. In order to show God’s wisdom in separating the work of the individual Christian and the work of the congregation (Acts 2:46; 1 Corinthians 11:34), we must as individuals become very hospitable and social (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:1-2). We can demonstrate God’s wisdom that showing that the above human innovations are completely unnecessary and that we can get together eat, recreate, and socialize just fine on our own. This demands that we must make an extra effort in this area. In addition, by doing and organizing all sorts of social and recreational things as individuals money doesn’t have to be spent on maintaining or building social or recreational "machinery", but rather is available to spent on truly important things such as spreading the gospel and helping those in need.
- Human Institutions: God set up the local church as a self-sufficient unit that can do all the work God has planned for Christians. The local church is God’s organization (1 Timothy 3:15). In the First Century, Christians evangelized the world, trained preachers and elders, taught members, and cared for their own needy members all without any church supported colleges, publishing houses, or benevolent societies (Colossians 1:23). We can demonstrate God’s wisdom in this area by getting involved in the work of the congregation we attend. Each local congregation should strive and make an investment in being able to train preachers, develop its own elders, see to it that the needs of its members are being met and so on. In addition, in our times God’s wisdom in this area is tremendously manifested when we see many colleges started by Christians going into apostasy and many benevolent societies simply becoming secular in their mission.
- Helping The Poor: In the New Testament, we find that in the area of benevolence, the funds collected by the local congregation were only used to help other Christians (Acts 2:44-45; 4:34; 6:3; 11:27-30; Romans 15:26; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3; 1 Timothy 5:16,9-10). As individuals, we are commanded to help not only our brothers, but also all men (Galatians 6:10; James 1:27). Once again, we need to make an extra effort in this area; we need to prove to the world that God’s method is the best method. No money is wasted on maintaining unnecessary "machinery"; all the money given goes directly to the person in need. This is true benevolence, where the individual has to take the initiative, and get personally involved ("visit" James 1:27; "you gave Me", "you invited Me in", "you clothed Me", "you visited Me" Matthew 25:35-36), "you came to Me"), rather than paying someone else to serve for you. In addition, many benevolent societies that are started by well-meaning people eventually depart from the wishes and intent of their original founders. As Christians we need to be involved in our communities and become the servants of those who are less fortunate. There are so many ways we can serve. We can become adoptive parents, foster parents, care for children with special needs, volunteer for a meals on wheels program, work at a crisis pregnancy center, deliver food boxes, and so on. In addition, there is a lot you can do without becoming a part of any specific agency, you can simply be prepared to help those who walk into our services off the street. You can volunteer to assist and visit those who call the building looking for some type of material assistance.
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/(503)644-9017