Concretized Christianity

Practical Application of the Word of God

Zeal: For Who and For What?

Shepherds Lead Sheep Astray

 

More and more this describes many of those humans who are claiming to be shepherds among the ekklesia.

For those of us who are immersing ourselves in God’s word, humbly asking God continually for His spirit to be renewed in us and for His wisdom, His discernment, His understanding, and His guidance to be given to us through The Only Faithful and True Shepherd, seeing this become the acceptable norm brings mourning, sighing, and crying.

I recently heard a sermon on zeal. On the surface, you might say, “That’s great! Zeal is something we all need more of!”

But that’s not enough. The heart of the matter is zeal for who and zeal for what?

The sermon, which turned out to be an increasingly-common, and proportionally increasingly-annoying, PSA for a humanly-devised organization, said that zeal for the organization was the only thing and the main thing.

Here and there scriptures were referred to. Perhaps two scriptures, at the most, were read from the speakers notes.

Not once was zeal for God, zeal for God’s word, zeal for repentance, zeal for God’s kingdom, and zeal for God’s righteousness mentioned. Not once.

The point of the sermon was to promote service to the organization (if you serve, then you’ll stay was the premise) to the younger people who are exiting in droves.

There were errors in the premise, errors in the sermon, and cluelessness and ignorance about why younger people are leaving en masse.

The errors in the premise were:

  1. God does the calling and all our human efforts to force this process are a waste of time.
  2. Service to the organization is not tied to godliness. If we’re obeying the two great commandments, in the right order, then we are servants to God, Jesus Christ, and every other human being and it shows in who we are, what we are – in our very character.

There were many doctrinal (please, every time you hear or read any word related to doctrine, go back and read II Timothy 3:16-17 so that you understood the difference between what God’s word says is doctrine and what these manmade organizations say is doctrine – they are not the same thing!) errors as well.

The two that stood out clearly in my mind were:

  1. “Only men are disciples; women are not disciples.” That’s in quotes because that’s exactly what the speaker said. Find out what a disciple is and then see if the speaker is right or wrong.
  2. Physical works – in this case, serving the organization – are directly tied to whether we will be in God’s kingdom or not (using Christ’s parable of the talents in Matthew 25). What and Who determines whether we are in God’s kingdom? What is required of us (go back to point #2 under the errors in the sermon premise section for a starting point) as part of our response to the gift of God’s calling? Is salvation a gift or can we earn it? This is basic stuff, my friends.

And the number one reason why the younger people are walking away as soon as they are able?

Hypocrisy. 

I know a lot of these people. They’re friends and they’re going to stay in my circle because I love them. I don’t have an “out of sight, out of mind” heart. I thank God for that.

And they trust me because I do my best to be honest, unhypocritical, and to live what I believe. Even if they disagree, they respect my efforts to walk the walk.

To a person, the biggest example of hypocrisy that these younger people cite is the constant preaching about unity (which is really not unity with God’s word, but unity with the organizational dogmas – two entirely different things) and the fact that none of these organizations can achieve unity among themselves.

In fact, each split and splinter for power and money (and that, my friends, no matter what spinning, angling, twisting, and other manipulative tactics have been used to convince us otherwise, is always the bottom line) has created disunity among the ekklesia.

And, you know what, I can’t argue – in fact, I completely agree – with my younger friends on this point. They are absolutely right. But the human shepherds are blind to this and ignorant of this.

So what should we, the ekklesia, be zealous for according to God and Jesus Christ?

Zeal for God’s word, God’s law, God’s way of life, God’s kingdom, God’s righteousness, and following the Lamb of God wherever He goes is what is required of the ekklesia.

It is woefully lacking as the human shepherds push zeal for idolatrous things (organizations and people) as what God requires.

The sheep who have gone astray by putting their trust in people and in organizations instead of in God and Jesus Christ have erred further by abandoning God’s word as their foundation, substituting the words of humans as being equal and “just as good.”

In other words, we are all guilty of this to some degree. Christ is trying to awaken all of us to this awareness, but it seems that most of us either don’t want to be awakened or simply are in too much of a deep sleep to be awakened.

I pray for wakefulness for us all and will pray that until my last breath.

One of the most sobering sermons I’ve heard on the condition of the ekklesia in this day and age was this one. Please take some time to listen to it because we’re even more in this condition than we were five years ago when it was first given.

Let’s be zealous. But let’s make sure that we are zealous for and about what and who God and Jesus Christ are zealous about. Nothing else is going to matter.

 

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8 comments on “Zeal: For Who and For What?

  1. Travel with me to...
    July 6, 2015

    Well written! You already know how I feel about this. Thanks for expressing it better than I ever could. I just wish these things could be discussed openly, but we both know where that leads…

    • ccbible11
      July 6, 2015

      And you already know we agree on this wholeheartedly. Like you, I wish we could discuss these things openly and confront them and change them, but we can’t because we do know where that leads (I can empathize with Jeremiah a lot more, can’t you?).

      But no matter where it leads – and I don’t where that will be – I know Who I, not only must, but want with all my heart to follow and Who I will answer to and what those answers will be based on when it’s all said and done. That’s the bottom line.

      When we lose sight of that and forget that, we’ve already drifted off the path of the narrow gate onto the broad path of destruction. It doesn’t mean we can’t come to our senses, spiritually, and do a course correction, but the longer and further we go down the wrong way, the more difficult and more laborious it is (a) to realize it, and (b) to get back to the place where we got off track.

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  4. iammarchhare
    July 10, 2015

    You wrote: “Physical works – in this case, serving the organization – are directly tied to whether we will be in God’s kingdom or not …”

    As written, I agree. However, I do believe it could be easily misread. For example, “Physical works … are directly tied to whether we will be in God’s kingdom or not” would be a true statement. Over and over again, we are admonished to be doers and not hearers only, and Jesus repeatedly made it clear that works are expected. It is not earning salvation, but we can lose salvation if we do not grasp at it, cling to it and treasure it.

    You mention Matthew 25, and the ending of this chapter shows quite clearly that works are not only expected but required. However, as you rightly point out, it is not whether or not we serve a mandmade organization. Rather, it is whether or not we serve others, and that includes those of this world. For example, we do know of COG members in prison, but they are a rarity. Yet, those who visited people in prison are applauded.

    Yes, Jesus said “of my brethren”, but how many in the world will be future brethren? While Paul makes it obvious that the “household of faith” (Gal 6:10) should come first, never is the command to do unto others exclusive of those who are converted now.

    Just to make the point clear, the Good Samaritan helped out someone who was not of his nationality, not his brother, even a complete and utter stranger, yet he was held up as an example.

    Sorry for going on about this, but I find this to be a major weakness and, frankly, embarrassment of many of these organizations that claim to be doing God’s will.

    I don’t want to dissuade people from serving in their church organization, for if we are truly family, then we will pitch in and help out. I don’t want to devalue it, either. However, service in the Church is not necessarily the highest ideal, for all humanity will potentially one day be our family.

    Except for this small and minor point, I found myself nodding throughout the article. After all, I was the quintessential prodigal who left and came back because there essentially were two “truths”: The one that was stated and the one that was lived by many members, and they often were not the same.

    • ccbible11
      July 12, 2015

      John, I totally agree with you and thank you for adding that clarification and also for bringing up the broader aspect of service to all people.

      Since I was purposefully focusing on the “service in services” aspect being tied to being in God’s kingdom, I chose not to go out to the big picture of service, which, as you noted, as always been lacking in COG organizations (while many of the denominations they criticize actually promote and provide service to those in need within the community).

      Like you, I was a prodigal child in my teens as well. I saw what I read in the Bible at home in who my parents were and how they lived their lives and taught us. Helping other people – all other people – was who they were and what they did (very privately – nobody ever knew and I found out in listening closely over time in brief snippets of conversation that had nothing to do with the help aspect) and what they taught us.

      I realize that was a priceless blessing from God and He knew I needed that to not go off the rails completely and just walk away for good.

      However, I did not see this at services.

      Hypocrisy was my issue.

      Serving, for the most part, was self-serving, political, competitive, and to curry favor with the minister. It was manipulative, domineering, and condescending. It was a point of pride and vanity: to be seen, to be heard, and, in some cases, to be feared.

      That disgusted me because the service wasn’t to help people, but to have power and control. And, in some cases, there was personal behavior that I observed that was anything but godly among some of these people.

      So, I walked away for a few years. I finally realized that I wasn’t perfect either and I came back, but the hypocrisy has always bothered me.

      As you said, serving everybody but ourselves is our calling, where there’s a need, when there’s a need, as we are able, with wisdom, discernment, and real tangible help (your post on this was excellent, btw). Now and in the future.

      And that willingness and action is part of what godly character is all about and part of what will determine whether we are given the gift of eternal life. But it has to be selfless and for anybody and everybody (agape), not selfish and picking and choosing for what will make us feel important (James 2).

      As you pointed out, this is an attitude. And we all struggle with attitudes, within the ekklesia and out. The root of every bit of massive upheaval (ungodliness) we see everywhere in the world today starts with attitude: toward God and toward each other (two great Commandments).

      One of the most refreshing things I’ve seen lately is the actions of the families of the Charleston massacre: openly forgiving their loved ones’ killer. It wasn’t fake. It wasn’t for show. It was a godly attitude.

      And, yet, how much did it impact us personally? For me, a lot. For the rest of us, it’s awfully hard to tell.

      These are the things we seem to miss in daily life and converting is about applying God’s word – taking it to heart – 24/7, and I believe that’s the part that’s missing (a lack of the implanted word and then the understanding that we live it, think it, breathe it in every part of our lives.

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