Friday, July 1, 2011

Lit Candles in a Dark World

The Church of God, (Anderson, IN. Convention) concluded its 2011 North American Convention June 29 with much to be encouraged about. Yet, we also need be aware that there are those who believe “the American evangelical Church, in spite of all the good it still accomplishes, has lost its way” (Tim Dalrymple, at Patheos).

In the vision of Christian life that has been passed down the stream of generations, Tim wonders if “something essential seems to have been lost in the exchange.” Call it a hunch, buried deep in the inner folds of the spirit within: a nagging concern that Christ calls us to something more than this.

I concur when he writes “God did not become incarnate, endure the indignities and humiliations of the human condition, suffer rejection and persecution, torture and death, so that we might live comfortable lives of suburban complacency, lives more characterized by rampant consumerism than radical obedience, by cultural accommodation than counter-cultural witness, by potlucks and stewardship seminars than the persecutions and sufferings of the saints.”

As we “Church of Godders” return to home front congregations this week, let us listen to Christ’s call more sensitively. As Dalyrmple wrote earlier “The way of Christ is the way of the cross, and the way of the cross is diametrically opposed to the way of the world.”

He believes Evangelical Christians “do not bear crosses anymore; we bear the sweet burdens of worldly idols and ambitions. The Church fell in love with the extravagant comfort and consumerism of American society, its sumptuous materialism and endless distraction -- and became unwilling to follow Christ into sacrifice and suffering, into the life of the disciple that is fiercely focused on walking in the Savior's footsteps. If the Church today lives at peace with the world, it is because it has become so like the world, so harmless to it, that it no longer presents a substantial threat to the ways of worldly sin.”

May that never be true of us and may Dr. Jeff Frymire’s closing message from Matthew 22 and John 8 goad us into action. Jeff reminded us some in today’s culture have no idea who Jesus is … because we have not taught this generation who he is. We are not called to make the culture around us happy, or feel good, but to bring the message of Jesus Christ to a world that is unfamiliar with him.

He challenged us by reminding us that we are the light of the world when we don’t look like the world, don’t act like the world, and don’t believe what the culture is trying to teach us. “You cannot transform the culture by being the culture.”

We transform the culture by being the body of Christ, as Jeff insists, “When we teach the basics of who Jesus is and who we are supposed to be, this is when we are truly the light of the world.”

Following this year’s theme, “Love for Church.” may we be convicted, committed, and determined to do what that God has laid upon our hearts … let us be the lit candles, like those held by conventioneers’ in the concluding candle lighting.

And, may this long-standing convention tradition celebrate and accurately represent our unity as a part of God’s people on mission in the Name of Christ.

From Warner’s World, walking with


Joe Allison said...

Wayne, I missed seeing your cheerful smile at the convention this year, but I'm glad you were able to tune into Jeff Frymire's sermon (I assume by the live Internet stream). We were blessed with some challenging messages throughout the week, from Jeff, Mary Ann Hawkins, and others. We can thank God that the Holy Spirit still speaks at Camp Meeting (er, Convention)!

Wayne said...

Hey thanks Joe; we missed seeing folks, and it sounded like a good week. I streamed part of GA, Town Hall and some services and thought to review all of them following nac. I thought it was saved & archived for further use but apparently not, so we missed more than intended. That was my first time with streaming and that is truly a modern miracle. Friday we go to Warner to once more assist in Dining Hall. Am not seeing much comment about nac this year so far ... Everyone better satisfied, I guess. I hope ...