For the first time since lockdown started 164 days ago, we had people over for a braai. Now that we are in level 2 of lockdown, we are permitted to visit others. So, we enjoyed the company of one child, three teenagers and twelve adults (including us). It was awesome and delightful yet at the same time emotional because at least half of the people we had not seen since last year December. We shaped the event as a “bring your own everything” for a braai or a picnic. We started around 10:30am with devotions and a time of sharing followed by fellowship and the braai/picnic. There certainly is something special about the Lord’s People gathering together around the Word for fellowship. I’m going to cheat a little today by modifying and using the devotion I shared with them as my daily note for today. Ever since I retired and even before that, the concepts of church and pastor have been heavy on my heart. Both have come up in my sermons in Colossians, and I have written about them both in my daily notes.
I recall that years ago a friend explained to me how dirty our water in Tshwane is. He even used the concept of chlorine being used both as a water purifier and as rocket fuel. This captured my interest because chlorine also has a dark side: “In its natural gas form, it is harmful to human health. Chlorine is a respiratory irritant, and inhaling it may cause pulmonary edema–an excessive buildup of fluid in the lungs that can lead to breathing difficulties.” I also remember how teenagers would pour chlorine into a container, put a motor vehicle’s wheel hubcap over it and set the chlorine alight. The hubcap would be send high into the sky!
So, after listening to Derek, we purchased a two-filter unit to filter our drinking water. All water for consumption, be it drinking water, kettle water or cooking water, was filtered. When we moved into the house we have now, we found a better filtration system to clean our water (reverse osmosis). The water certainly tastes better, and cleaner water means better health and better living!
Thinking of purifying water … whether it is the pastor or the church council–or, for that matter, the mature believers in the church–we are all called to be the Church’s filtration plant. That is, we are called to be the Church’s water engineers and sewage officers! Our job is to ensure that God’s pure truth flows abundantly where it is needed in the church and in the lives of the saints! It is our duty to filter out any intrusive pollution that might damage our spiritual health!
You see, it seems at least to me that as of late some (be it pastors or church leaders) are trying to introduce matters into the church that don’t belong in the church. Where many issues need to be addressed and talked through, the Church’s main task is a Gospel task … seeking souls, helping transform lives and preparing saints for glory.
Mt 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Those verses speak loudly about the Church’s mission. Nowhere there does it say anything about politics or social action. Yes, these things are important and they have their place … but the Church’s mission is a Gospel one. Did Jesus take on the Roman Empire’s cruel reign and rule? Did Jesus get involved in social action? No … He operated on a Gospel platform that when a soul was touched and saved, that soul would impact society in a new and different way. This was true of the Apostles’ ministry as well … not forgetting Paul!
So as you are aware, the “go” in Matthew 28:19 is subservient to the word “make”. The emphasis is to “make” disciples of Jesus in all the nations of the world. The idea of disciple is “one like me as I follow Jesus”. The very first thing here is the Gospel must be made known in such a way that the target audience hears and believes! Once they are certain of their salvation (believing for pardon and eternity through the blood sacrifice of Jesus), they need to be incorporated into the Kingdom of God publicly. The act of baptism defines a transfer from the old lifestyle, religion and behaviour into a new lifestyle governed by Jesus Christ as Lord. This public event is done by demonstrating that they have left the past and now align themselves to the religion and Gospel of the Triune God. So, there is the making of the disciple and there is the initiation of the disciple, and now the greatest task of the pastor and church kicks in … “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”. True discipleship is “made” through “teaching” the whole council of God. Too many treat this part of making (teaching; edification) lightly … or perhaps with contempt! Instead, they meddle with other things in their “teaching” and don’t make true disciples. This sadly cripples the church and its ministry! If the Gospel is the main thing, then the main thing the Church needs to be doing is the Gospel which includes teaching the whole counsel of God!
Dear God, as Paul wrote to Timothy, help me too, and my church, to never be ashamed of serving You because I correctly handle the Word of Truth. Help me to fulfil my role in being part of the water engineers and the sanitation officers of the Church to insure that Your True Word is filtered into the Church’s life for Your glory. Amen.