2009/03/11

A Different Standard

It is clear that the Republican positions are not the same as those of the Democrats. This is not a difficult concept to grasp. Many people would also readily acknowledge that God’s ways are not man’s ways.
This raises the question as to how astute are we at grasping God’s way. As we view the manner in which we practice our worship services, do we seek God and His presence as we plan these experiences? Or, do we watch other churches practice and plan according to what has been successful for them?
How do we know that the most successful church in God’s eyes is the church that we might choose to mimic? The two churches that Jesus lifts, of the seven in chapters two and three of Revelation, would not match many of today’s definition of a successful church.
Concerning the church in Smyrna, he states that he knows their “tribulation and poverty” and yet they are rich. The description continues, “Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer.” God views their wealth from a perspective that is unique from a human viewpoint.
The church in Philadelphia is identified as having “limited strength.” They receive their recognition from “keeping” God’s word and not having denied his name. Their accolades are not from a great program and an increasing attendance but rather their faithfulness.
The church in Laodicea takes pride in their accomplishments and they even brag about their wealth. Jesus’ response to them is that he will vomit them out of his mouth. He also admonishes them to purchase new clothing so that they will not be embarrassed or ashamed.
All too often we lift up the church that is able to build the largest buildings and oversee great programs. Their wealth is admired and they are held as model churches. It is an interesting contrast that Jesus challenged churches of this type and recognized churches that suffered and had limited strength.
This does not mean that larger churches are wrong and smaller churches are inherently right. It does indicate that all churches will be judged by the same standard and that is based on our faithfulness in the midst of suffering.