From the day we start preschool we are immersed in the art of selective association. That sinful desire to follow some and shun others, usually based on the premise of popularity and/or notoriety. We are taught that there are those who are acceptable to be associated with, those who are undesirable, and even those who you should not get caught dead talking to. This starts from our first taste of social engagement and continues to be fostered throughout our lives. It is so common in our culture today that if you choose to go against this rule, you become an undesirable yourself. What’s even more disturbing is that the church today has become a training center for this practice rather than a safe haven from its influence. It is the absolute antithesis of who Christ was and who he calls us to be, and yet we harbor it in local church bodies everywhere. While I was doing some reading in the Word today I came across this passage in Ephesians written by the Apostle Paul to the local church. It seems they had the same issues as well.
2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
I have heard these unbelievable stories about self-righteous church goers turning their noses up at people who are less than perfect that show up on the door steps of the church looking for love, only to find out it doesn’t reside there. I recently read a story, though I don’t remember where, about one such instance. A homeless man posted himself out in front of an upscale baptist church one Sunday morning and sat beside the front steps with his bags. As the church goers started to trickle in not one of them acknowledged him and an alarming amount of those people went out of their way to avoid him. He saw those standing inside the church pointing at him and talking under their breath, and those who would do anything to avoid eye contact. The most alarming instance, however, came when one of the church deacons came over an “politely” asked him to relocate from in front of the building because he was making people uncomfortable. He quietly gathered his things and went on his way. Later that evening the church was scheduled to have one of the best missionary evangelists in the denomination come to speak. One in which none of them had ever met. When the pastor introduced him to the congregation, guess who showed up? That’s right, the homeless man still wearing the same ratty attire from that morning. It goes without saying that he had quite a few words from the Lord for that local church body.
The apostle Paul could see this in his day as well when he addressed the Ephosians. Who are you to decide you are better than anyone else. Were you not just as sinful, just as wretched as that homeless man when God called you out? Your faith came by the blessings of God and not by anything you have done to deserve God’s favor.
In Revelation chapter 3, Jesus addresses us! That’s right us. The laodicean church (meaning self-righteous) with a stern rebuke. The churches in revelation are not only churches in Asia Minor, nor are they just 7 types of church denominations. The mystery of the seven churches is revealed when you line all seven up against the history of the church age. You will find that we now live in the Laodicean era of the church and Christ is talking to us directly. It is almost scary how he addresses this age of the church as it should be.
3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
We think because we are saved and have the favor of God, that we are rich and need nothing or nobody. We sit in our pews on Sunday soaking up our blessing and forgetting the world outside that is hungry for truth. How many of us sitting in the pews every Sunday will split hell wide open when that great day comes? It is time for us to wake up and confront ourselves with the word of God and devote ourselves to some serious prayer. Today, ask God to convict you of your self righteousness and lead you into a new way of thinking. All souls are precious to God and it is our mission to love everyone we come in contact with and show the light of Christ that is in our hearts.