CHECKLISTS AND CHECKLISTS

1.Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, be Baptized (check). 2. Acapella Singing (check). 3. Congregational Autonomy (check). 4. Elders (check). 5. That Which Every Joint Supplies, the Proper Working of Each Individual Part (       ).

Ephesians as the “church” epistle supports the 5th identification on our checklist above (Ephesians 4:16). You and I will decide if there will be a check and, if so, how big a check Jesus will place in the box. The elementary matters of 1-4 are fairly easy to affirm (though there really is more to them than is sometimes understood),however the fifth consideration on the list asks for more; relates to how well we practice connected, united, common purpose body/family service.

A question is then what are my niches? Hopefully, we all have more than one. With my involvement in mind, if the level of my church commitment to service were transferred to a spot with the Hilltoppers, what would the sports writers say and how well would the team fare considering the value of my contribution to the whole? Looking at this participation principle from a spiritual point of view, how fittingly am I described by Paul’s statement regarding my ability to suffer and rejoice with other members of the body (I Cor. 12:26)?

Okay, I understand that you and I are human and thus saddled with limitations hindering us from perfect performance. However, Jesus, the builder of the church, did not have the Spirit speak of expected relationships without His having some expectation that these relationships would be more than puny.

I also know that Rome was not built in a day. We are all works in progress; improvement comes with time. Also, progress involving a group can be messy at times. Therefore, the question isn’t whether or not we have arrived at perfection, rather it is a question asked about if we are consistently taking the next step. Is there movement? What tangible progress is evident in my life and in the life of the congregation?

A local congregation is expected by God to provide an environment conducive to growth. Individual Christians are expected to take advantage of this and grow. Even if the congregation’s environment is not helping me as much as I think it should, my responsibility before God remains. There is no way to escape my duty and privilege as a Christian to do the best I can to make things better in the Kingdom.

How does my “checklist” look? Is is just a checklist of outward behaviors or does it address my spirit and its ongoing quest for Christ-likeness? Who has made my checklist, me and my selfish, unambitious attempts to place my “commitments” in a rather small box, or Jesus who wants to own me?

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Old Covenant Apologetics, What If?

Regarding Old Covenant apologetics, what if the covenant were layered from pure justice moving up to justice tempered by mercy; bare law-keeping moving up to obedience of faith?
As a covenant serving a nation often characterized by barbarity who lived among people who sacrificed their children to idols, the covenant would begin to address matters from the lowest common denominator. This would not be the end all by any means, rather this would primarily serve to keep an incredibly dysfunctional people in some semblance of order.
Beyond this, while not abandoning principles/laws in keeping with God’s nature or types and shadows or laws in keeping with the nature of humankind, the covenant would allow men and women to rise to amazing spiritual heights.
Considering that, unlike the New Covenant, the Old served all facets of national life, how else could it be constructed? If this be true, common objections to the Old Covenant are largely removed.

CIVILITY IN THE CONVERSATION

GETTING A GRIP ON OUR WORDS

Being from olden days, Modernity often seems strange if not disconcerting. An example would be how we speak. Once upon a time, there were silently agreed upon boundaries that preserved a certain sense of public civility. Times have changed. Today, insensitive remarks, crude words or phrases, and irreverent expressions have invaded the space once held by a less inflammatory conversation.

Presently, the idea of, “because I can” seems to be understood as an insistence to opt for, “therefore I will.” Many seem to think their entitlement to free speech gives license to use words without proper forethought. This seems very immature. Surely, the stream of “bleeps” commonly inserted into the media is not a sign of intelligent, mature discourse! Or for that matter, is the increasingly “non-bleeped,” coarse language often heard and seen actually a sign of enlightened liberation taking hold of a better way?
It appears to me that autonomous freedom, paradoxically, leads to an enslavement to selfishness. Additionally, me-centered positions certainly seem to bring about endless clashes between those determined to be tolerated and others equally determined not to tolerate.

Our choices in speech are indeed ours to make. We can say whatever we jolly well please. Nevertheless, we should not think our choices carry no consequences. We can easily incite and inflame, but we can also choose a course of peace and common courtesy. We can also opt to dismantle all vestiges of difference between words of carefully considered respect and words of thoughtless utterance. The proper choices seem obvious. Is it then possible to agree to disagree in such a way as to preserve our personal convictions and integrity without becoming disagreeable, coarse, and rude?

Maybe such concerns have become mere archaic remnants of foolish attempts to rise above the lowest human common denominator? If so, I believe, we are the poorer for the “progress” such a conclusion would create. However, with regard to civility and courtesy being anachronistic, I think not. Our minds allow us to create social constructs capable of giving a greater quality to everyday exchanges. Though I view such possibilities from a Christ-centered perspetive, choosing a higher ground is open to all. We can do better!