As the World Goes Mad, Go to Church
In the aftermath of the coordinated attacks in Paris murdering 150 image bearers of the living God, who were all somebody’s daughter or son, many wonder if the world is going mad.
Secular society (the ‘Nones’ that we learned about in the 1 Kings 18 sermon) lacks categories for understanding how men would use suicidal death in order to kill masses of concert goers, foodies and football fans out for a night on the town. The Nones refuse to admit that young men with eschatological hopes for life beyond death would think in their own minds they are justified in slaughtering innocent civilians. The errors of Islam cannot be openly discussed since it would concede the point that people believe in things beyond the material world, and those beliefs must be examined, whether true or false.
But the Nones, and all of Western society from Paris to London, Washington and here in Calgary need to heed this simple charge:
As the world goes mad, go to Church.
Go To Church
In the Church, locally expressed, the gospel is preached, the ordinances are practiced, and there is an alternative to the madness. In the Church, discipleship and discipline are expressions of gracious love. In the Church the power of the Holy Spirit convicts of sin as the Word is heard together, summoning repentance together, sharing grace together.
In the Church there is a capacity for self-critique that doesn’t exist in other religions. We believe that all disciples of Jesus are sinners. So the Word is always critiquing and correcting us, as we conform to our Saviour. Even a Latin phrase has come into our English use: semper reformanda, “The church is reformed and always [in need of] being reformed according to the Word of God”.
Religions that Can’t Cope
Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Secular Naturalistic Humanism all fail to have a strong enough view of the human sin problem. Neither do they have a robust enough solution of hope and justice that can match it. The world’s religions can’t cope with sin.
Only the cross and the empty tomb will do. Only Jesus Christ passes muster as a Saviour.
No other religion is sufficient to ‘right wise’ the world by judging the wicked and justifying the ungodly, through faith in Christ alone. Remember, God is both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3.26).
On the Refugee Trail
In what is modern Turkey, on the refugee trail, Paul wrote to the 1st century Christians in the Lycus Valley at Colossae. He pointed them to the peace that is in Christ alone, and the reforming work of the Word of God, in the context of the worshipping church. He wrote:
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3.15–17)
Now when you read this Scripture text, think about the possible migrants and refugees who are today passing through the Lycus Valley on their way to Europe. Is this not the hope that they need also? Refugees and radicals alike need to be called to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, the world’s only Saviour. If they will not believe in him, they will continue their descent into madness, and ultimately to God’s judgement of eternal punishment. The same is true for every Calgarian oil executive, homemaker, grandmother and college student who refuses to repent and believe in Jesus Christ.
Our Church in a Mad World
Calvary Grace is a local church, expressing in flawed, but realistic ways, the true universal Church. We are ‘always in need of being reformed by the Word of God’. But as we partner together to hear the Word, submit to the Word, confess the Word, correct and receive correction by the Word, and forgive and restore by the Word ---- when we do that, we offer something that a mad, mad world cannot.
We offer peace.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your hearts be troubled,
neither let them be afraid.” (John 14.27)
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