Key Word:- GRACE
Title:- The Shining
… “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
Today in 1954, the U.S. Senate voted by 65 to 22 to condemn Senator Joseph R. McCarthy for ‘conduct unbecoming of a senator.’ This condemnation, which was equivalent to a censure really, related to McCarthy's callous and very controversial investigation of so called suspected communists in the then government and military, even spreading eventually to society as a whole. The Senator died in 1957 from Alcoholism.
McCarthyism has become the term deemed for any ‘witch-hunt’ and subsequent removal of, anyone who holds contrary opinions to you. Some would say that there is evidence of a rise of such 'McCarthyism' within the church of the Living God even today. If this is the case my question then is three fold:
1) Is such a searching and subsequent ejection of those with differing views in the church ever necessary?
2) Should such a searching of those who differ with us and subsequent ejection be expected and seen amongst us?
3) If so, how can we live and function in such perpetual and bitter turmoil as was clearly evidenced in the era of McCarthyism?
For a church seemingly so consistantly at war with itself these are very important questions.
For years now I have held an ideal of the church being ‘The Safest Place on Earth.’ A place where grace reigns and sinners journey into Jesus and into the loving and waiting arms of the Father. Whilst never condoning or assisting open sin, I will always strive for this ideal. I will always be found amongst sinners, chest beaters, toenail gazers, people seeking mountains of mercy to fall upon them. I have found that there is little danger here among the truly repentant and thankful I can tell you, especially when compared to the wider and established church which is not ‘the safest place on earth’ at all but is in fact, the most dangerous place on the planet. I wonder if well established self respectability always has been and always will be a most dangerous place for struggling sinners? After all, the right and the self righteous have rarely ever taken any prisoners of grace to their hearts.
Phillip Yancey records in his book, ‘Soul Survivor’ ( or how I survived the abuse of the church,) that in his own home church in Georgia, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, was referred to by many white conservative, Bible believing, God honouring, patriotic people as, ‘Dr Martin Lucifer Coon.’ Interestingly, if you were a black civil rights activist then, you were also ‘McCarthyised’ by many church leaders. My point is that war in the church is not new. Even history has shown that the ecumenical councils of the early church, the shed blood of the reformation, the social restructuring of equality instead of slavery, have always produced quakes and shakes within the church. Civil wars over such matters have drenched many a battlefield with the blood of thousands who whole heartedly believed in their cause; one way or another.
Truth, it would appear, has often had to wear a blood red gauntlet. Jesus especially told us that His message would not bring community peace upon the earth, but rather the sword of separation. In addition to this, He told us that the enemy would sow tares amongst the wheat; whilst Paul also gives evidence of such tares in the form of spies and false apostles being used remarkably well by the enemy in the disruption and attempted disfiguring of the church and the gospel. The wider church it seems has always been a dangerous place to be.
What are the answers to my three questions then? How should we deal with those folk who are dangerously contrary to us?
Well, first, you cannot tamper with the gospel! You are twice cursed to do so, even to the emasculation of the giving of life to anyone! Yes indeed, Paul says if you’re going to tamper with grace by adding circumcision to the gospel for example, then just go ahead and chop the lot off! Paul was a radical when it came to the gospel of grace. So if the gospel of grace is being tampered with, then in this case, ejection is not only dreadful and painful, but both mandatory and necessary. Grace cannot be added to. Those that try to, need to leave.
Secondly, because of this persistent infiltration of darkness and warpedness, the church like a mangy dog will often be seen to rise up from the dust and shake itself vigorously. Gentile dogs, redeemed from the termination of the pound, are always vigorous in this kind of shaking. Always. The church like any healthy and living body is always cleaning itself. But please, let's make sure though, that we only get rid of the blood sucking flees.Yes, we must get rid of the blood sucking flees.
Thirdly the church is probably one of the most dangerous places on the planet. We simply need to make peace with that and make sure we are on the right side of many a bloody conflict. This side of heaven, the church will always be a place of conflict and more so as the return of the Lord approaches and false prophets in pathetic pulpits all the more abound.
In the middle of such open war then, how can we the true church, ever hope to remain unscathed and experience at least some measure of peace and unity? After all, being a dog owner of many years, I know, that too much shaking and too much scratching, can lead to unnecessary bleeding, infection, sickness, and disability!
Well, surely Jesus in our text today is saying that we should fight, not for the Kingdoms of this world, but for His kingdom, which is remember, of another world. Again the gospel demands we lift our eyes and seek out the gates of a distant and very distinct Kingdom, coming soon in practicality but here already in a risen reality that shines from our hearts, or should do any way! The kingdom of God changes the places in which we live and we must remember that without ‘the true shining’ without the shimmering of God’s golden grace, such seeming community change is actually forced and not free and often led by the flesh and a thousand other false ideas. All communities are doomed to eventual failure unless they are built on sacrificial love and sacrificial love always fights for grace and the rights of the truly redeemed.
Lastly, let us remember that when all of our shaking exceeds its righteous bounds by beginning to bite and devour one another, then the bad bitch of death has come to gnaw our bones and soon the smell of the prison pound from which we were once so royally purchased, will be upon us once again. All our shaking and ejecting, all our pruning and protecting, must be done in Kingdom light and Kingdom love.
At any cost then, we the redeemed of the Lord, must always manifest the shining of the light of the gracious Kingdom of our loving God.
Listen:- “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21
Pray: - Lord in all our shaking, in all our shedding and in all our civil wars, Shine Jesus Shine,! Let the world see the Father’s glory! Amen.