We returned to the white chapel last Sunday for our services. The reason for the return was to celebrate the buildings 50th anniversary at its present location. The chapel was built so someone would have a place to come and tell God’s side of the story, and speak about the Kingdom of God. After fifty years the building, for the most part, sits empty. Sad!
Pioneer Village is open five days a week, and during those five days visitors to the village make their way back to the distant corner of village where the chapel sits, and look upon it with nostalgia, but they see it as a building whose time has gone by. On occasion someone will rent the building for a wedding, but usually it sits unused, the pulpit vacant, the bell calling worshipers to service remains un-rung, and the pews empty. Sad!
I thought of the building this week and how it, in many ways, speaks of the condition of the Christian Church in America. The American Church today is like the chapel for it is thought of when someone wants to get married, when there is a funeral, when Easter and Christmas rolls around, or when there is an emergency. The pulpit is not empty, for there is still a message to deliver. There are bells still calling worshippers to services, but the pews remain empty. Sad!
The Church Neglected,
Today we are breaking from our normal church service to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the white chapel. Anniversaries are a good thing, for it gives us the opportunity to think about things of the past and to measure our present. Paul wrote, “Think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you,” (Rom 12:3b). He says we are to think, and measure.
The word, “Think,” in the Greek language is phroneo, and it means to have a particular mind set. An example of phroneo in the English language is heard when we say, “Don’t think so highly of yourself.” Paul is telling us to think honestly about who we are in Christ.
Paul said we are to, “Measure,” our thinking. What are we to measure against? In Washington D.C. at the Department of Weights and Measures is a length of metal that is exactly one yard long. It has 36 inches mark on it as well as 3 feet. It is the standard against which all other yards, feet, and inches are too compared to. Anything that does not measure up to this standard is not an inch, foot, or a yard; it is something else. Our measure is J.C. and we are to measure what we say, do, act, speak, or think to Him. Anything we do that does not measure up to Him is something other than Christianity.
In our service today we will think about Christ, our measure, and then look at ourselves, and respond to what we see.
President Trump visited Pittsburgh, Pa., this week to pay his respects to those in the Jewish community who were killed by a deranged gunman. And interesting contrast was noted. The synagogue’s rabbi was appreciative, and respectful to the president. A short distance away a female Presbyterian pastor repeatedly shouted at the president, “Everybody is welcome here. You’re not welcome here.” She sounded deranged.
Theology is the doctrine of what is true and what is false about God. Ethics is the doctrine of what is right and what is wrong. Duty and doctrine always go together, for it is not enough for us to understand explanations about God, we must translate our learning into living. We must show, by our daily living, that we trust God’s Word.
We unfortunately are living in the post-modern world, and one of the characteristics of this world is it disavows truth. Truth has been replace by feelings, and therefore, the answer to an ethical question is, “If it feels right, it is right.” A response to someone’s unsubstantiated testimony is, “I believe your truth.” Yuck, too wishy-washy for me.
In this post-modern world there is a lot of crazy talk, vitriol, and anger, like what was witnessed in Pittsburgh. It is designed by Satan to confuse you and confound you, and separate you from real truth. As Christians we walk in the sandals of the carpenter. This means His theology and His doctrine are ours, and we are to translate that theology and doctrine into all we do.
In His Sandals,
A doxology is a hymn of highest praise to God for his work. Paul once sang this doxology, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” Rom 11:33-36).
Think about “The depth … of God.” The word depth in the Greek is an expression for an inexhaustible abundance. The word applied to God means God is a bottomless or infinite in resource of riches, wisdom, and knowledge. In thinking of the depth of God it is proper for us to consider His riches, His wisdom, and His knowledge in His dealings with us, for have they not been, and are they not an inexhaustible abundance?
We cannot fully understand how this is all possible, but just because we do not understand how it is possible for God to be involved in our lives does not mean we should reject Him. We like Paul should contemplate the plan of God in our lives. With such a thought, our hearts should also be filled with awe, and we in turn should responds with our own hymn of highest praise for the things God has done in our lives.