Take Another Look At Your Church

So often I am amazed at the criticisms that are levied against the church of God and its leaders. Unfortunately, those who charge the church, ridicule her and besmirch her leaders give the impression as being righteous and possessing impeccable character with authority to do such things. While I do not claim the status of these critics, I seek to share a few points on the subject of the church.

The Object of His Attention
When in a meeting in1893 the church had been described as becoming Babylon, Mrs. Ellen White wrote: “The church, enfeebled and defective, needing to be reproved, warned, and counseled, is the only object upon earth upon which Christ bestows His supreme regard”(Counsels for the Church, page 240). Additionally, she penned, “Nothing else in this world is so dear to the Lord as His Church. Nothing else is guarded by Him with such jealous care. He paid a costly ransom for His heritage, and He is not willing that anything should separate them from Him, so that He cannot protect them and give them prosperity” (Review and Herald, August 20, 1901).

Given the aforementioned, shouldn’t we be careful in criticizing God’s church and its leadership? That is not to say that the church is perfect; for it is not, and neither are the leaders. Leaders are expected to model Christ and do so daily. In one’s attempt to revive and reform the church, it is good to know that we constitute the church and as such change should begin with me.

The Purpose of Revival
The July 20-26, 2013 Sabbath School Lesson says, “The purpose of revival is to fill our hearts with such a love for Jesus that we long to share this love with every person possible.” On the other hand, “a ‘revival’ that focuses on one’s ‘spiritual experience alone’ misses the mark.” Additionally, “If it develops attitudes critical of others who do not measure up to one’s ‘standard of holiness,’ it is certainly not heaven inspired. If the emphasis of revival is to merely change external behavior rather than to change hearts, then something is wrong.” A further note says, “All genuine revival leads to a renewed emphasis on mission and service.”

So how can a pocket of members with an understanding of this fact plan and sponsor their own meetings even at the same time the church is having scheduled meetings? I observe that generally the speakers that appeal to such persons are individuals who are critical of the church and its leadership. They quote scripture and the writings of Ellen White profusely- giving the impression of being Spirit led. Unfortunately, some members feeling a need for revival, are drawn to these meetings unaware of the subtleness of their intent, risk being deceived.

Jesus’s Prayer for His Church
In John 17, I note that Jesus prayed for His disciples and, by extension, those who would believe as a result of their preaching, teaching and witnessing. I need not tell you that includes you and me. However, I remind you that the objective of Christ’s prayer was for unity; and it is the same today. How do we experience revival when we are constantly attacking each other and discrediting each other? Only the revival spoken of above will bring about that unity. We need to be aware of off- shoot movements such as the Shepherds Rods and those claiming to be members of the church but are tearing it down. We as elders and pastors must be willing to confront such persons in love but with firmness, letting them know that their approaches to addressing issues are misguided and misleading. Likewise, those of us in leadership must not turn a blind eye or deaf ear to known ills. As Paul admonished, we must be about restoring in love as opposed to tearing down, ever mindful that we are all human beings.

Finally, I remind you of the opening quote by Ellen White: “The church, enfeebled and defective, needing to be reproved, warned, and counseled, is the only object upon earth upon which Christ bestows His supreme regard.”