Saturday, October 15, 2011

OCTOBER 15 "WE WOULD BE SCREAMING...CULT, CULT!!!"

     HOW would this fair in today's modern church, "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us".  WE would be screaming, "cult, cult, controlling, controlling...". Let's break this down. "I command you".  Our reaction today would be, "excuse me, you're commanding me?"  "Who are you to command me #1, and 2nd, who are you to tell me who I can and cannot hang around with, what is this a cult or something?"
     Now let's break down the reasons why Paul is "commanding" them not to hang around this person.  It is not that this man is some Satanist or vile sinner, but rather because this brother is "Idle", does not live up to their standards, basically sits around all day, does nothing, doesn't work and is a busy-body".  How many young men does that describe that fill our churches today?  And to make matters worse Paul is instructing them to do this so that he may "feel ashamed".  This would be the sermon that would definitely drive a few families to leave your church. The rhetoric of the families that would leave would go along the lines of something like this, "Pastor is to controlling, he wants to run our lives and he is harsh and doesn't care for those that are struggling, he wants us just to cut them off and make them feel ashamed, I'm sorry, but I am going to go to a church where it's a little less controlling and the Pastor cares more for people and does not purposely set out to "make people feel ashamed", after all, isn't that the Holy Spirit's job, to deal with people and convict them".
     Interesting that Jesus called "working" men to follow him.  Yes they were sinners, but they were working men, not idle men. Not one of his disciples that He picked, He chose (according to scripture) was an idle bum (if I'm allowed to use such a non-politically correct word).  You do your own study and see if this is not the truth. We would say, "If Jesus can do anything, if men can change, why not have had one or two bums in the group of Jesus' twelve.  What a testimony, what Glory it could have brought to Jesus that He took a bunch of idle bums off the street and turned them into these mighty men of God."
      This does not mean that bums, idle and lazy men do not come into the church and get saved, because we know that they do, but the problem is when they remain that way. Paul writes, "if a man will not work, he shall not eat". Paul says, "when we were with you we worked day and night to support ourselves, never mind the fact that we had the right to get paid by you, but to be an example, we didn't take a dime, worked to support ourselves".  Paul is saying, "there's no excuse", these men need to learn to work and give to the church instead of being idle and just taking, taking all the time.  Paul writes, "let them settle down and earn the bread they eat".  I have not listened to Paul and wasted years working with idle men that would not work, would not contribute to the church financially. They were idle, busy-bodies and took the most, but gave the least and where are they today, they surely are not in the church. Perhaps I failed them by encouraging them in their ways rather than make them feel ashamed. The presence of such men will stifle the growth and motivation of other men in the church.  Men coming into the church ought to be introduced to an atmosphere of "manly men". Christian Men are not just men that don't cuss or go to bars, they are men that rise up, step up, take responsibility, work a job and our the best citizens in their communities and a great support to the local church.
     What Christian Men are not, is the men that pass the offering plate by all the time without anything to give, standing at the back of the church always waiting for the free meal, a free ride, a hand out and collect welfare. They are not idle men but working and contributing men.  Idle men are leeches on the church, they will suck the church for every dime it's worth but never give, never tithe, always empty pockets, always idle and always busy-bodies.  And you can be more spiritual than Paul (as I thought I was) but you will learn the hard way.  Paul's advice is, "have nothing to do with them, let them feel ashamed".  Perhaps if I had taken Paul's advice I could have saved some, instead I encouraged them in their idleness, I encouraged them in their "welfare mindset" and "poverty spirit".   Paul says if they feel ashamed maybe they'll change. I agree, we should make such men feel ashamed rather than do the opposite and make them feel like it's okay, it's acceptable, when it is not.  "But they'll leave the church", you say...and I say, "so....."  If we are just looking to fill our churches with anybody, than we ought to serve free meals every Sunday and pay people's utility bills, but Jesus is not trying to just fill churches with bodies. Jesus is calling men out of their former lives, Jesus is calling men to "step up" and become "New Creations", Godly and Holy men and this is what conversion by the Spirit does and when that change has not occurred than what you have is simply a sinner that has found a nice welfare station to sit and squat for a time or you have found a man that refuses to give in to the Holy Spirit's dealing with him. 
     According to scripture, (according to Paul) it is our job to lay the standard down and call men to live up to the standard. It is not a standard to high to reach, it is simply that some have no desire to change and Paul says don't hang around with them, #1, their lazy spirit may catch on to you and 2nd, you're only encouraging them by hanging around with them. Paul does care for them and his hope is that in their being "shamed" they will make an effort to change and if "shame" won't even prod them to change than what hope is their for them?  Leave them alone and hang out with those that are converted, those that are like minded and those that are striving to change and be Christ like. Hard teaching for this politically correct, tolerant to all, generation that we live in, but yet it is God's word and God's wisdom is behind this and if we would take heed, rather than cry out, "cult, cult" we might see more men changed, and in the long run,  more men helped and saved.