Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Dogs at church?
Dogs are members of households. They get fed, watered, walked, and groomed. They perform tricks that please guests and occasionally will perform a service like bringing in the paper. But overall, they are receivers. They take and take. We enjoy their company, and they keep us from feeling alone.
Similarly, the church is full of people who are canines by behavior. We have people in the church who are members of the household. They get fed and watered from the church through its teaching, fellowship, and other blessings. They look good to guests and occasionally perform a service. But overall they are receivers. We enjoy their company, and they keep us from feeling alone.
Unfortunately, the church is not supposed to be full of dogs. The church is to be filled with brothers and sisters in Christ whose lives are to be marked by sacrificial service for one another. Certainly, family members are invited to feast at the table of God's Word and within the church's fellowship, but eventually, we ask our small children to grow up and take their plate to the kitchen, then they do the dishes, and eventually they take on more and more sacrificial responsibility. We certainly don't want our children to regress into to acting like dogs; we desire them to grow up, mature, and become life-giving participants in the family.
Jesus put it this way in John 13:12-17: When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13 "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (NIV, emphasis added)
Oh...and for those of us that think we are the "good kids" out-performing the dogs and less mature children, this is sin (pride, legalism, works of the flesh!). We don't "serve God" out of our goodness or our strength. Rather, God provides all that is necessary for Christian service, all that is necessary for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). Every act of obedience puts us more in debt to God's grace. Every act of service is a testimony to God working in us to will and to act according to His purpose (Phil. 2:13). St. Peter put it well in 1 Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen (NIV, emphasis added).