Apart from God
Sunday, June 27, 2010

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“I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from You there is no good thing.”  (Ps. 16:2)

                It comes as no surprise to my readers – I worry about the Church.  I worry that it has become a people centered, God-demeaning body, seeking excitement in fulfilling earthly pleasures.  I find it despairingly comical that people who call themselves Christians seek fulfillment in their faith in places that seek to satisfy man.  We do this over and over.  We find a church which satisfies, and we settle in there as long as we are satisfied, and leave (or change pastors) when the rush is gone.  This is the very symptomatic problem in marriages today.  Once the spark is gone, we seek to find new ways to generate the old spark.  But just as a match sparks and flares only for a few seconds, if the flame is not used to light a candle, the light quickly goes out.  The same must be said for the Church.  When we are saved, for a moment the flame is bright, but if we don’t use that flame to light a candle, then quickly our faith will be extinguished.  The sad commentary for the modern church is that we keep giving matches to our people instead of showing them how to light a candle.  We substituted God centeredness with people centeredness and the result is the people perish.  The psalmist of the magnificent 16th Psalm knew this so well.

                He begins with, “I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from You there is no good thing.”  There is nothing people centered in his understanding.  We cannot seek goodness in people.  Remember when Jesus bailed out of Jerusalem because He knew the hearts of men.  We cannot – must not – make people (or the environment) the center of our worship.  And the reason is simple, apart from God there is no good thing.  Apart from God life is meaningless, relationships are hopeless, health is paramount (ever heard a Christian say, “Our health is everything.”), and ultimate good is impossible.  Apart from God, we can expect a deterioration of our families, our churches, and our nation.  There is no good thing.  But when we go to church to worship and we spend more minutes talking about the physical health of ailing members than we do about the spiritual health (the God-centeredness) of the congregation, we have the American church and in general in it is no good thing, because it is apart from God.

                And the psalmist makes a bold and frightening proclamation.  He says, “The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods.”  We have a church in America that is running hard after other gods.  We chase a god who is a cosmic bell hop.  We look for a god who is at our beck and call.  We seek a god who satisfies our emotional needs.  We look for a god who looks a lot like us.  It is amazing how few Christians truly believe the word of God.  They agree with the parts that agree with them, but deny those passages which run contrary to their favorite talk show hostess.  They want the god who stimulates and excites to fulfill them, but they want no part of a God who stimulates and excites them to transform their lives, make Him the center of their universe, and to change the world via their own transformation.  And the psalmist is clear.  “The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods.”  You will find divorce rates within the church equal to that outside of the church.  You will find adultery in the pastorate equal to that of the unchurched population.  You will find lawsuits among the believers, sexual sin being exalted, drug use being honored, murder (of our unborn and inconvenient) being cherished as a “choice”, and the sorrows escalate.  A pastor or musician may excite for a while, but apart from God, the sorrows of a people seeking church will soon come to rest on its members.

                The answer for the Church today is the same eternal answer that existed in the Exodus, in the early church, and throughout history.  If we are to stay strong and flourish, we must keep the Lord always before us.  David said, “I have set the Lord always before me.  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (16:8) If we set people’s needs always before us, prepare to be shaken.  If we set the political agendas always before us, prepare to be shaken.  If we set social issues always before us, prepare to be shaken.  If we set our need for stimulation in worship always before us, prepare to be shaken.  Only when God is at the center of worship, going before the church in all that it does, will the Church be unshaken.

Kingdom Road Ministries
PO Box 503
10 South Main, Suite 201
Victor, ID 83455

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