I believe that a call must go out to the people of God to become a thinking people. Much of Jesus’ earthly ministry was aimed at getting people, and especially religious people, his people, to think. He wanted them to consider why they did what they did, and what was the real fruit of it.
Consider the incident with the man at the pool of Bethesda, as recorded in John 5. Jesus walked into a scene that had remained unchanged for many years. People were lying around waiting and hoping for some mysterious moving of the water that would allow them to beat everyone else to a healing plunge. Interestingly, Jesus happens into that scene on the one day, the Sabbath day, which would prevent him from doing anything about it, if he walks according to the teaching and tradition of men. Jesus walks into the middle of that crowd, picks out a guy who has obviously been waiting there for a while, instructs him to get up and walk out of there (carrying his mat of course), and then disappears into the crowd to watch what would happen.
Now, for what purpose did Jesus do the healing work? The man certainly benefited, but the lesson was not for him. The lesson was for those who were responsible to maintain the religious order for the day. Jesus wanted them to think. Their value system was being challenged by a divine act. The One who has ordered everything was defying “the way things are supposed to be”. Jesus could have chosen any other day of the week to do his work. This man had been there for years, couldn’t this act of kindness waited until tomorrow? Or, why hadn’t he come to heal yesterday. Why did he have to go upsetting everyone? He wanted them to evaluate.
Today the church must evaluate. When we look at what we have produced, we must ask some serious questions. We have produced a divorce rate that equals that of the unbelieving world. We have produced a generation of youth who are equally immoral to the unbelievers around them. The record shows us to be nearly as sick, nearly as indebted, nearly as emotionally disturbed, nearly as sinful as the people who make no allegiance to our King. So what’s the scoop?
Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Paul says that our Father “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians1:13). I believe that God intends us to keep our marriages. I believe that he would have us to keep our young people. I believe that he has designed peace for his children. I believe that he has designed health for his body, the church. And I also believe that these things and many more can be received in our day, if we will evaluate and come back to that which he has said.
So, why do you do what you do? How much of what we do is actually based upon our expectation of the way things should be instead of the Bible? Why are our church gatherings structured the way they are? Would the early church even recognize us as being part of them? Are the scriptures our reference point for defining our earthly relationships? Why do we treat families as individuals by an age-segregated approach to training? Why don’t we actually practice church discipline as instructed directly by our Lord in Matt 18 and elsewhere? Why aren’t the “one another’s” or “hospitality commands” of Scripture emphasized or practiced as central to body life? Who is really responsible for the care of our elderly? What does the Bible say about the place of the church in family life? And, what does it say about the place of the family in church life?
My dear brother and sister, there is hope for the church. There is hope for the family. There is hope for our children. There is hope for you. It is found in allowing the Scriptures, the revealed truth of God, to speak into our experience and to become the standard by which all that we do is gauged.