Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of five columns written by Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. executive director, to mark 100 […]
This past 4th of July, the news reported that in an Oklahoma Wal-Mart a person dressed as an armored vehicle delivery driver was handed 75 thousand dollars in cash without anyone suspecting that he was an impostor until the real driver arrived an hour later that afternoon.
How can such deception be possible? How could it be that none of the staff noticed this deception?
It was obviously a case of lack of discernment. Everything seemed normal and authentic, but it wasn’t.
In Wednesday morning’s delegate plenary session of Kansas City 2015, Ervin Stutzman, executive director, made an excellent presentation about discernment—the action of finding the difference between what is real and what is false.
History has shown us that serious mistakes have been made due to a lack of discernment. Therefore, for the good of the Church, there is great urgency to fully investigate and take the necessary action to uncover that which is false in the midst of what is true.
As a medical doctor conducts exams, runs tests and does research to find out a patient’s condition, so has the Church for years been discerning what might be the disease that ails her, not wanting to acknowledge that sin sickens and enslaves all people?
If someone believes otherwise, he or she forgets the words of Jesus (Matt. 9:12-13) who said that patients need a doctor and he has come in search of them. If anyone thinks that they are well thus denying infections, fractures, pain and disorders of all kinds—not accepting their sickness—he or she is delusional. The sin of a life not surrendered to God will continue to govern such a person. And if we live lulled by soothing our pain and only treating the symptoms of the disease, the inevitable result is death.
And to those who denounce sin and wickedness, they are called homophobic, intolerant, ignorant, hateful and other sophisticated epithets. Well then, we should know that God is holy and does not tolerate sin much less our justifications (Luke 16:15 and Rev. 2:20). Neither did Jesus tolerate sin when he drove the temple merchants out—thieves protected by a system that was abusing the people (John 2:13-16). Jesus did not care for the use of well-chosen words to sound politically correct so as to not offend the audience.
He was clear in calling those religious leaders “hypocritical, foolish, blind guides, white washed tombs and brood of vipers,” (see Matthew 23:1-36).
Jesus was also assertive with his own disciples when he spoke to them of the cost of following him, so much that some found his words hard and preferred to leave him. It was then that he asked his inner circle if they too would like to leave as well (John 6:60-67). Jesus never went around begging and supplicating as is the norm with some leadership of today.
The problem of our day is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer pointed out decades ago when he said that there would come a time when forgiveness without repentance would be preached to justify the sin and not the sinner.
So many adherents of the Church fail to understand that all sin is abhorrent to our Creator and our justifications are nothing more than filthy rags before God? Discernment is clearly missing in the midst of the church. This can be seen by the approval of tolerance or patience to sin. The Church is being handled by social activism. It is with great reason that the wise Solomon (Ecl. 1:9) said ” … there is nothing new under the Sun.”
The same shamelessness, deceptions, abuses, violence and perversions that brought about the fall of powerful empires and nations of the past will destroy any nation that moves away from God and despises him. Especially the Church that allows herself to be dragged by the current of the world by disregarding God’s call to be salt of the Earth and light to this lost world.
The repentance of sins and conversion, which Christ preached is the same message for today (Mark 1:15). Not the, God loves you, come as you are and stay as you are, so that you can be part of a community of love.
Society without God is sick with death and eternal perdition, and the Church which harbors sin in her midst is also sick and on her way to destruction unless she repents of her wicked ways and turns to God. Do we not know that no painkiller will cure disease?
The diagnosis of the Church is clear: The counsel of the eternal Word of God has been put aside and replaced by a poorly understood concept of God’s love, cheap humanistic arguments and excuses.
God loves the sinner, but the sinner must acknowledge his or her condition, repent, seek forgiveness, convert and receive new life.
To proclaim a certain religion or denomination does not save anyone! That which is false can be seen clearly by looking at it through the lens that God uses—his Word.
Can we discern this, or will we continue being misled by those who appear to be, but are not?
How can we continue the countercultural Anabaptist legacy, if we follow the flow of the world? Meanwhile God is holding us accountable for what we have done with the Gospel that rescues the sinner. The good news of salvation calls us to repent of sin, to convert and walk with Jesus confronting sin and leaving it behind for newness of life.
Is Jesus, our Lord and Savior, also Lord of the churches where we gather?
The views expressed do not necessarily represent the official positions of Meno Acontecer, Igleisa Menonita Hispana, Mennonite Church USA, or The Mennonite, Inc.
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