Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Old Advice For a New "Problem"

For some years now, there has been a steady decline in the number of people in Western countries who regularly (some might say, religiously) attend a Sunday morning "church service". There have been polls taken and research done. There have been blogs posted and conversations had.

Those who are leaving the church have even been given their very own label: "Dones".

Theories have been produced to explain this phenomenon, and strategies formulated to effect a turnaround of the exodus.

And in the midst of this, there has been a steady cry of protest and lamentation from 'church leaders' decrying the loss, and denouncing the defectors. "Something must be done!"

bibleencyclopedia.com
It seems many of these leaders assume that the problem lies with those who are leaving the churches, and so a great deal of energy is spent trying entice these deserters into returning. When that fails, many resort to guilt and shame in an effort to control the apostates.

But what if there's actually nothing wrong with those who are leaving? What if they are, in fact, being called out of the institution by God? What if he is calling his people to leave behind the man-made religious trappings, for a life of freedom which unashamedly reveals the very Kingdom that Jesus himself declared was at hand?

There are those who are fretting and fearful about what is happening in their churches, who feel they must "do something" about it. And I can't help thinking of the story in Acts 5:12-42, where the religious leaders were getting all bent out of shape, worried that the apostles might be a threat to their position and authority. Yet there was one of amongst them - Gamaliel - who showed his wisdom and integrity by saying:

"...I advise you to stay away from these men. Leave them alone. If what they are planning is something of their own doing, it will fail. But if God is behind it, you cannot stop it anyway, unless you want to fight against God."

4 comments:

  1. Gamaliel is one of my new biblical heroes after this last reading through Acts. One curiosity that must popped into my head is that the man who speaks these words of temperance is also the teacher that have us blood thirsty Saul of Tarsus.

    You know I love this sentiment though.

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    1. Thanks Dallas :)

      I wonder how Gamaliel felt about Saul's 'zeal'...?

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    2. Given the placement in scripture, I would guess that he would have frowned on it. The words you are quoting come only a couple chapters before we are introduced to Paul's story.

      I'm assuming that will be an interesting story we get to hear one day.

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    3. Sounds like Saul wasn't listening to his teacher's wisdom, then :P

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