Matthew 22 36Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37Jesus replied ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
I have had experiences lately in a social setting where someone makes a comment about the Church and the hinderances it poses to social freedom. While it is true that some Churches do get carried away with fringe beliefs, the Church as a whole through the centuries has done more for society than any other institution.
In his book, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? Pastor and Evangelist D. James Kennedy highlights some of the positive contributions Christians have made through the centuries:
· Hospitals, which essentially began during the Middle Ages
· Universities, which began during the same period
· Literacy and education for the masses
· Civil liberties
· The abolition of slavery
· The elevation of women
· High regard for human life
We could add to that child labor laws, drug and alcohol treatment centers, human trafficking prevention, and rehabilitation services. You can’t name an area in society today where humans are suffering, trapped, or condemned that the Church isn’t involved in some way to bring assistance. Much of the relief help going into an area that has been hit by a natural disaster is driven by Christian Relief Organizations.
So, when I hear a cheeky comment about how the Church is a hindrance in any way to society, I just want to yell, “foul”, because that is what it is - a blatant lie to discredit the Work God’s People have been doing for centuries.
Why does an organization like the Church have such a humanitarian perspective to its operation? It is because it has Faith in God who expects us to care for one another. God’s Word says that the two Greatest Commandments for human existence is to Love God and to Love people as yourself. That is the basis for why the Church is the greatest humanitarian organization on earth. Many people don’t know that it was the Federal Government who established the 501(c)(3) non-profit status for Churches so they could help people the Government could not help. The Government was wise enough to know even though it has the money and resources at its disposal, it could not bring the kind of human touch and caring to people like those who have a heart for people.
The focus of the Church is always about people and their status … first to God, and then to life itself. When the focus of the Church is about the growth of the organization, money, doctrine, or status, it gets off course from the original intent of its design. God’s Intent for the Church is to share His Message of Salvation through Jesus Christ and Love people as a demonstration of that Message. It is a simple, yet profound, Mission Statement and it does change lives … if practiced.
People get confused about God when things get added to His Message, such as the requirements for people to conform to a specific group that specializes in some form of worship, or some kind of doctrinal stand, or some kind of theological overview. These are usually called denominations, or specialized fellowships of study and practice. I don’t like denominations because they invent things that are not as simple as the Gospel was intended. I know people can make a case that their denomination is Biblical and therefore okay to promote. However, it is just a matter of time before that group begins to say you have to be baptized a certain way, or you have to display a certain Spiritual Gift, or you have to believe in such and such in order to belong. There are always membership requirements in these denominations, and they all require an ID and password (denominational standards) to get into the club.
I may sound harsh, but the Church is not any of these things. The Church is about people who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and they Believe in Loving people and Obeying God’s Word as the Authority in life. Simple. Complete. Period.
I realize there are more dimensions to living out a life of Faith, but the Foundation isn’t on how I practice my Faith … it is in the fact that I have Faith and it is in Jesus. Having Faith in how I practice is off base; it’s not having Faith in my creed, or my theological heritage, or my worship experience … it is having Faith in Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less. I know that may be too simple for some of you, but I am convinced we give the wrong message to each other and to the world when we begin to add to that simple formula of Faith.
Here is the formula for Faith, simply spoken, and abounding in Truth. Don’t add to it. Don’t detract from it. Don’t explain it away. Just Believe in it.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Keeping Life Honest and Truthful … Larry Kutzler
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