Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Are You Living a Compromised Life in the Church?

In the book of Revelation, the only book of the Bible in which there is a blessing for those who read it and hear the words, there are seven letters written to the seven churches that existed in Asia Minor at that time. However each of these seven issues the churches were having is still relevant in that in the heart of the believer, one of these problems exist in the life they are living today.

Hard to believe right?

A compromising church is one that has been founded on the Word of God, knows the true doctrine of God, but has allowed false doctrine to enter their church, or teachings that govern how that church operates. We see this happening all around us, especially in the media spotlight, and oh how condemning some Christians can be when someone's sin is put on public display for all the world to see. We should be praying for them and leading them back to the teachings of the Bible, back to basic essentials of the church.

There are so many different denominations in the Christian church, from Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Protestant, and the list goes on and on. Why? Why are there so many different divisions within the church if they all believe the same thing?

All of them believe in the essentials of Christianity and thus what makes them Christians!

They all believe in the deity of Jesus Christ.

They all believe in the Resurrection of the dead.

They all believe in His return.

They all believe in the Word of God.

It is the peripheral issues that makes them different. Some churches will say you have to be baptized forward while another one says backward, some have strict dress code issues on what you wear, others on what you eat, still others on when you eat. These things are not essentials of the Christian faith. These are based on who founded the church and what they perceived the Word should entail, and thus fellowship was founded. We can't let these peripheral issues keep believers of Jesus Christ apart. These denominations have spun off because of peripheral things.

These are not what God is interested in, just the essentials. When you hang out with people, you become like them. Did you know that? A message is transmitted by the life we live, either for good or bad.

Certainly no one wants to be involved with a compromising church. They are weak. They are all things to all men, so that men attend it. It tries to establish itself in the community and become like those in the community, but lacks Biblical conviction and instead merely mimics the community it serves instead of the other way around. It wants great crows of people to attend and will make the gospel message convenient to those who attend so as not to offend anyone. It is a church that runs itself more like a business, with the Pastor as the CEO and its associate pastors just executive members. It is trying to present itself in such a way that people can't tell their in church and it looks more like a self help gathering on a Sunday morning instead.

We have to remember that churches generally don't start off that way, but when leadership is lacking, compromises find their way into the heart of a great church. It is a spiritual law of God, that you would find Jesus wherever there was a need. Today if there were prostitutes on a corner, you'd find Jesus there, homeless people, Jesus would be feeding them. Jesus was the church.  God puts the calling on the heart of those who want to serve him. Pastors are held to a level of the highest accountability.

James 3:1(NIV) ~ "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly."

We need more than ever especially in light of these confusing and compromising times where it becomes difficult to tell right from wrong and wrong from right, to stay focused. The best way to do that is to stay in the Word of God. Stay on course. Verse by verse, chapter by chapter, and then being in the heart with people ministering to their needs right where they are instead of insisting they come to the church.

Hebrews 13:17 (NIV) ~ "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you."

Most people look at church leadership with disdain. Mostly because when confronted with biblical truths, they feel it doesn't apply to them or their situation, they don't want to hear it, or they are above biblical counsel of the church. This is precisely what was happening to the Church of Pergamum in Revelation 2:12-17.

Once a very wealthy, prosperous and well known church built high on a rocky hill with a view of the Mediterranean. It was well known for having the largest library at that time, with more than 200,000 rolls of parchment or vellum but they allowed idol worship to continue in the city of Pergamum, especially to the gods of Zeus, Athena, and Asclepius. The temple of Zeus was once one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World. The remnants are still there today. They dedicated their children to the temples which involved horrible sexual acts until they died, all in the name of worship. The temple of Athena was considered the seat of Satan based on the types of worship one could find there and in the rest of the temples. The temple of Dionysus and the snake god Asclepius was dedicated to the healing through sacrificial practices and is the symbol of a serpent or two intertwined along a rod, that is synonymous in our medical practices today. People would come to the snake temple that was filled with snakes all over the place, with the belief if a snake touched you, you would be healed from whatever ailed you.

Remember during these times, worship of Caesar was required during the time of Jesus' ministry. They demanded that citizens swear their alliances and worship to him. In fact the city of Pergamum was so riddled with evil that if Satan needed a place to stay, this was it! Kinda like how you just know some places are evil without having to visit there, kinda like the impression Las Vegas creates in your mind, not that there isn't great churches there, but their motto is simply, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!" Doesn't promote a very great definition of what you will find there does it? It's like saying do whatever you want, we won't say anything.

But the believers living in the city were struggling to hold on to their faith living where they were. Perhaps that is your situation. Things are difficult at your job, your home, in your neighborhood and you're the only Christian around. People are angry at you once they learn you're a Christian. People harass you for your faith. But Jesus understands where you are coming from.

In Revelation 2:13, "I know where you live - where Satan has his throne." (NIV).

But we know that the Word of God changes our own lives. It changes the lives of those around us. It changes the communities we live in and all that is thanks to the church.

The church does not exist to serve the leadership, the leadership of the church has been ordained to serve the people. Let us all be faithful to remember that in light of the trying times we find ourselves. 

More on the compromising church of Pergamum tomorrow and how we can learn not to live a compromised life in the midst of the dark times ahead of us.

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