Over the last week I’ve been reading the book “Connected: Living in the light of the Trinity” by Sam Allberry. It’s been a good reminder of the biblical truths of the nature of God and how they apply to our lives in so many ways.
Today I came across this passage that pulled me up short and made me think. The context is a reflection on 1 Corinthians 12:27 and the truth it teaches that the church as a unity of saved individuals is the body of Christ. Therefore, how you treat the church is reflective of how your heart is towards Jesus. Here’s where the author runs with that.
In any church there will be some who have virtually nothing to do with the rest of that body of Christians. I’m not talking about visitors, or those whose main church is elsewhere but come occasionally for a friendly catch-up, or those one or two who can’t handle large crowds right now and so keep a very low profile on a Sunday, or those who are not yet Christians, but who come regularly and are still working their way through the claims of Christ.
I’m thinking of those who come regularly and think of this as their church and yet make minimal effort to get to know all the other people. At our own church, they are those I have to race to the door just to greet them before they disappear. Every church has them. You might even be one of them.
If that’s you, then I can’t stop you behaving that way. But I can tell you that each week when you snub your church family, you are snubbing Jesus himself. You may be theologically sharp as a pin. You may be very disciplined in your devotional life. But if you are not interested in your church family, then you relationship with Jesus is very poor indeed. Your attitude to them is the true guide to your attitude to him. Ignore the church by all means, but please don’t pretend you love Jesus.
Allberry, S, Connected: Living in the light of the Trinity, pp 129-130.
What do you think? Too hard or bang on?
Practical, Pastoral and Penetrating. This book is a great help to anyone wanting to know how to support someone through trials, or even just how to be a biblical friend.
Writing from personal experience Dave, a pastor on the Arabian Peninsula, has written a book that will both encourage those who are struggling and guide those seeking to help them. It begins with two chapters that encourage a biblical and gospel oriented approach to the struggles of life. The remaining chapters deal with seven practical areas setting out how to be a friend and help to someone in pain.
There were three things I particularly appreciated about this book. First, the size. I know size isn’t everything, but I find it matters especially when it’s a book I would want to give to others. This book is big enough to get to the heart of the real issues, yet at the same time not too big that it would scare anyone.
The second thing I really appreciated was the gospel heart of the book and its author. This isn’t a book offering a quick fix for any situation or a checklist of spiritual friendship. Rather it works from the foundation that Jesus is the answer to all our situations and then seeks to encourage us to be friends that both know Jesus and point others to him.
Then, third, this book is a gold mine of wisdom gleaned from others. Don’t get me wrong, it is so much more than a collection of quotes, but the ones that are there are worth reading and spending time meditating on. I was particularly challenged and encouraged by the passage quoted from Horatius Bonar’s, ‘Words to winners of souls’.
In his pain Job had some ‘friends’, but they did not serve him well. Here is a book that will help us to think through and work out how we can be more helpful to people around us who are suffering. It is sure to both challenge and encourage.
One of the advantages of reading old books is that they make you aware that there is nothing new under the sun. Here is a quote from Stephen Charnock that is bang up to date.
Man would make himself the rule of God, and give laws to his Creator. We are willing God should be our benefactor, but not our ruler; we are content to admire his excellency and pay him a worship, provided he will walk by our rule.
The Existence and Attributes of God. Kindle Edition, Loc 2629
I’ve been studying today for preaching on Sunday and I came across this passage that made me sit up and think.
The desperate need for Christians to excise innumerable church meetings, in order to free their diaries for proper meeting with unbelievers, was summed up with characteristic candour and pungency by Martin Luther: “The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not accept this does not want to be of the kingdom of Christ. He wants to be amongst friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people. Oh, you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever have been spared?”
Prior, D. The Message of 1 Corinthians, p 83.
In my reading this morning I came across this in a book by Joel Beeke. I hope that it touches you as it’s touched me.
Christ as God is an infinite and immortal spirit, yet He took a human head so it could be struck, crowned with thorns, and beaten with a reed. He took a human body so it could be ripped open with a Roman scourge. He took human arms and legs so they could be stretched out on the cross, and human hands so that they could be nailed to its wood. He took a human soul so He could feel the unspeakable pain of His Father forsaking Him in the darkness. He took our very nature so that He could bleed and die for the sins that we committed.
Another great quote from Denney’s book. This time extolling the centrality of Christ.
Christ not only was something in the world, he did something. He did something that made an infinite difference, and that puts us under an infinite obligation. He bore our sins. That secures His place in the gospel and in the adoration of the church. That is the impulse and the justification of all Christologies.
I’ve been reading James Denney, ‘The death of Christ’ over the last week. Another book, to my shame, I’ve had on my shelf for a while and not read because the cover doesn’t look appealing. Here is a great sentence from p 66.
If God has really done something in Christ on which the salvation of the world depends, and if He has made it known, then it is a Christian duty to be intolerant of everything which ignores, denies, or explains it away”