Saturday, April 4, 2015

We Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ. Do You?

We belong to the Church of Jesus Christ.

Not the Church of the Human Beings Running Things at the Time

Not the Church of Outward Ordinances, Service, and Performances

Not the Church of Human Programs and Achievements

Not the Church of Buildings and Temples

Not the Church of Appearances

Not the Church of Missions

Not the Church of Ambitions and Positions

Not the Church of Human Relations

Not the Church of Self-Esteem and Comforts

Not the Church of Human Families

Not the Church of Sociological/Humanitarian Service

Not the Church of Worldly Education

Not the Church of  My Own Ego

Not the Church of Evolving to Fit the Times

Not the Church of Political Expediency

Not the Church of Niceness

Not the Church of Changing the World/ Making a Difference

We belong to the Church of Jesus Christ, a state that begins and ends in each of our individual hearts and minds. That means God's plan: fallen man, Christ giving his life for our sins, feeling God's love, repentance, the mighty change of heart, redemption and salvation through Christ, faith in Christ---believing Christ can wash your sins away if you truly repent, relying on Christ alone, the Holy Ghost teaching us the truth and all things we should do, more repentance, being grateful to God for everything, putting trust in Christ alone, learning terribly lovely things, striving to do all things out of love for God, giving God all the credit as Christ did, tremendous gratitude to God, becoming a new creature because of that gratitude and reliance on Christ, hope for eternal life, more repentance, developing godly traits, becoming clean, forgiven, and striving for holiness, more repentance. That's what we believe in. All the things we say and do---the habitual study and prayer, the testifying, the teaching, the attendance, the participation, the ordinances, the tithes and offerings, the service, the programs, the outward performances---lose all meaning in the eternal sense if we don't apply these basic gospel truths in the everyday lives we live. We must first cleanse the inner vessel; we must do that first and always, and all the necessary outward acts will naturally follow. As a wise friend of ours said, it's not whether we get everything done---that's not the emphasis---the emphasis is whether we have the Holy Ghost.(And then we'll probably get a lot more good stuff done anyway and for the right reason.)

To the worldly, these are hard and unpopular doctrines. Not only are they grossly overlooked and under-emphasized, but if someone dares to bring them up, say, in Sunday School class, they meet with stubborn resistance. "Fake it 'til you make it," is the trendy trumped-up motto, not found anywhere in scripture and utterly contrary to God's word. Just love one another. Just serve one another. All of these "gospel" tenets are trendy, vaporous, incomplete, and improperly defined where God is concerned. People want so badly to merely go through certain prescribed motions in order to feel good about themselves and thus escape the task of examining their motives, their souls, their spiritual welfare. They want the comfort, but not the personal relationship with God, not the awful demands God makes on our souls.

This is human nature, that enemy to God, and as old as the hills. Granted, it's very difficult to stay spiritually centered. We get hooked by stuff going on around us, by appearances, by our own sins and frailties, by our vanity, by our pride. We make excuses. We rationalize. We get distracted. We have our moods. But if we regularly pray for correction and truly desire knowledge---that personal examination and illumination and revelation---we'll get it. This is repentance, the mighty change of heart, and with it comes light. Light will be shone on our faults. We'll see the crushing, humbling truth. It will hurt. (The more prideful we are the more painful it will be.) But then we can remember God loves us nevertheless and there is a Savior and we believe in him. And then because of these truths we can pick our wretched selves up and start again with joy and thankfulness overflowing. In this way we truly grow and learn and change, all in the best ways.

The gospel of Jesus Christ won't work for people who are more about changing the world and influencing others and enjoying any measure of smug complacency than changing themselves. It won't mean anything to people who think they do well enough and Christ will "make up the difference." It won't interest people who think their good works cancel out any sins they might have. It isn't applicable for people who think of Jesus as a social worker or philosopher or massage therapist or a temporal-type-comforter or as the icing on the cake. People with that mindset just won't get it. They do not know who Jesus is: the quintessential heart surgeon, the wielder of a spiritual two-edged sword, the Author and Finisher, Alpha and Omega, the one and only way to God.

It matters what we center our inward lives around. It matters what we put our heart and our faith in. It matters who and what we worship.

This is the religion we embrace. Do you?

No comments: