Wednesday, June 06, 2007

We Don't Need a Holy Nation

Well, I suppose the title of this blog entry already has raised the blood pressure of some of its readers. That was not my intent, but I did intend to make a point.

In my sermon for this coming Sunday I will begin our quick overview of the book of Isaiah. I realize that this rather large and deep portion of Scripture demands weeks of study (In fact I did a 16 week series back in 2004), but our present task is a journey through the Old Testament to try to get a handle on how it all fits together, thus the quick overview.

Anyway, the point I am seeking to make is this: What is needed is not the development of a holy nation, but the development of a holy people of God.

I am sadden by the fact that over the past 30 years or so there has been an increase in Christian involvement in the political arena, while at the same time there has been an overall decrease in the number of churches in America, as well as the number of overall church attendees. We have rallied to march and rallied to vote, and sometimes with a relatively powerful effect, but as I listen to the "Christians" around me fewer and fewer seem to have a good handle on who God is, and what He demands of His people.

There seems to be a disconnect between Christian activism and Christian belief.

As I read through the book of Isaiah I am first caught by God's strong call to His people to return to Him with true worship. He does address them as a nation, but we must remember that the nation and it's people in worship were considered one in the same. The same cannot be said for us in America where the nation and the people of God are not one in the same.

Thus, what is needed most is not our nation to become holy, but for the people of God to become holy. I often think we spend a lot of time seeking to make a holy nation, while the church is sorely lacking in that regard.

The power of Isaiah's writing is that through his quill God is calling His people to return to true worship. A worship that is grounded in three keys elements: 1) A true understanding of who God is. 2) A true understanding of who we are. And 3) A true understanding of what worship is.

The book of Isaiah asks the question: "What kind of oaks will we be?" An oak with fading leaves in a garden without water (Isaiah 1:30) or an oak of righteousness for the display of God's splendor (Isaiah 61:3)?

It starts with a return to True Worship.


Anonymous said...

Pastor Randy,
Having just completed an "in depth" study of Isaiah...I "hear you". Israel was a nation but one made up of God's "chosen"...His beloved. They had a special relationship with their father God. He held them to His holy standard...blessed them as a nation when they obeyed...and crushed them as a nation when they disobeyed. They learned many painful lessons at the hand of their "King" (God). His call to them was the same as His call to us (believers of every political system) "Obey my commandments"...if you do, I will bless you...if you choose your own pay the consequences. Some of those consequences are mighty harsh!!

The call is simple really...".Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul, mind...and love your neighbor as you love yourself." FOLLOW ME...LOVE ME...OBEY ME.

He shows over and over HIS faithfulness, His provison, HIS might and miracles, HIS mercy and His patience...BUT.... He ALSO over and over shows HIS anger, HIS jealousy for His chosen beloved, His distain for their worship of idols and "doing their own thing".

He blesses a nation who follows His precepts...but to have a nation who follows his precepts there has to be a nation comprised of individuals who follow those precepts. To follow those precepts they have to KNOW those precepts. Few churches today, even in Evangelical circles, TEACH the precepts of a HOLY God . Thank God ours is the exception!!! Thank you for remaining true to the word,Randy.

Let us worship in spirt and in TRUTH!! Ruthie

Anonymous said...

All I can say is I really needed this topic. Usually, I do not consider myself a “political” Christian, but I just felt so sickened after reading that they found that young girl Kelsey Smith’s body in Kansas. She SHOULD have gone home, gone out to dinner with her boyfriend as planned and gotten the promise ring he was looking forward to giving her. In a perfect world, that is what would have happened. In a slightly flawed world, she would have at least been rescued like Elizabeth Smart was.

But we don’t live in a perfect world or even a slightly flawed world. We live in a world where indescribably evil spirits of darkness influence people’s actions every day. That’s why at times like this it is so tempting to want to jump on the political bandwagon and make sure every child is forced (with or without their parent’s consent) to receive religious training so they can at least learn the rule, "thou shalt not kill."

It’s times like this that I need to be reminded that we are not called to change the world through political action. We are called to let the Holy Spirit’s light within us shine so the “world” can see God’s good works. We are not called to take the log out of everyone else’s eye or criticize them but to take the splinters out of our own eyes. We are called to walk the walk as we follow the Holy Spirit so that other people might want WHAT (or rather WHO) we have.

And of course as you mentioned, we are called to worship and praise God. I used to have a problem in that area many years ago when it seemed like every congregation was standing in church with their hands reaching toward heaven saying over and over, “Praise you Jesus. We just praise you Jesus.” To me it seemed almost like repeating a meaningless mantra. I asked God what was the matter with me? Why couldn’t I as a Christian raise my hands and say, “Praise you Jesus” like everyone else?

The next day at work, my boss came up to me and said. “I just want to tell you I appreciate the work you did on that ...... project. I can tell you put a lot of hard work into it. By the way, upper management has decided to fund the purchase of the new equipment and that report helped persuade them.”

And it struck me that my boss had just “praised” my performance or really me and used specifics to do so. He didn’t just come up and say, “I just praise you or I just praise that report.” From that moment on, I had no trouble praising Jesus as long as I used specifics and just talked about why he is so good or how much he loved us in order to die for us, how patient he is and so on. Well, to each their own. That is the only way I can praise him and my personal way of worshipping him not so much in a church service but when I am talking to someone about him, so that they can understand why I worship him and hopefully see why if they knew him, they might just fall down on their knees and worship him too.

It’s hard not to want to get political. Hard to just scatter seed and let go and trust the Holy Spirit to do his part and draw his sheep into the sheep pen. It’s especially hard when a young eighteen year old gets murdered not to want to grab the “world” (or at least the whole U.S.) by the constitution and try to force everyone into converting.


Anonymous said...

uhhhh, make that we are not called to take the SPLINTERS out of
everyone else's eye, but to take the LOG out of our own eyes. Kinda got that backwards, didn't I?