Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Grounded on the Word (Pt 2)

In a previous blog I wrote that “a life and a ministry guided by public opinion is like a leaf blowing in the wind. A life and a ministry grounded on the Word of God is like a Light House standing through the fiercest storms guiding ships through dangerous waters. We need to be grounded on the Word.” What does being grounded on the Word look like? For the church I am currently serving as an Interim Pastor, it means four things. I’ll write about two of them today. It means being grounded on the Word in terms of our understanding of morality, practice, theology, and stewardship.

To be grounded on the Word of God means that my sense of morality is determined and defined by the Scriptures. The Book of Judges ends with these words, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg 21:25). The first time I read that I thought, “Wouldn’t that be great if everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” But then I realized what that means. It means that each individual gets to define morality for himself or herself. It means that society lives with no standards of right and wrong. It is the very thing that Moses warned them not to do. He said that when they got into the Promised Land, “You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes. (Deut 12:8). Rather, they were to do “what is right in the sight of the LORD your God” (Deut 13:18).

Anarchy has been the cry of many in recent days. But no society can exist in anarchy. Anarchy is an absence of order or regulation. I find it interesting that the anarchists who have taken over a portion of Seattle found it necessary to put into place a regulation for addressing disagreements and offenses. In their society without rules they have established a Conflict Resolution Advisory Council. No society can exist for long without rules. It is just reality that when you have more than one person there will be disagreements. Rules are necessary. When rules of morality are left to the individual then someone is always the underdog. Someone is always taken advantage of. When rules of morality are left to public opinion then they are constantly changing, creating systemic anxiety. Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Mt 7:24). What we believe to be right, moral, and true must come from something bigger than ourselves. We look to the Word of God to establish our sense of right and wrong.

Further, we look to the Word of God to establish our sense of how we are to live and how we are to do church. Those practices that are neither established nor condemned by God’s Word are open for debate. For example, whether we meet together Sunday morning or Sunday evening, whether we meet online or face-to-face, whether we meet at 10:30am or 11:00am, whether we meet outside or in a building are questions of preference. The Bible does not speak to them. But, whether we meet and what we do when we meet are defined by the Word. We meet to worship corporately and to teach God’s word. The early church came together for “teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Ac 2:42). The Psalms call us to worship. Worship, teaching, communion, fellowship, and prayer are the practices of the church. How those are practiced and when they are practiced will vary or change, but worship, teaching, communion, and prayer occur when the church comes together. The practices of the church are grounded on the Word.

We cannot build strong societies nor can we build strong churches by public opinion and ever changing morals and practices. Who we are, what we do, and how we live must be grounded in something bigger than ourselves. We look to the Word of God to define our morality and our practice. The question “Where stands it written?” should guide every decision and practice.

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