Apr 8, 2011

The One Thing...

Was reading William Barclay's Commentary to Mark when I came across this passage:

Churches will never draw together so long as they argue about the ordination of their ministers, the form of church government, the administration of the sacraments and all the rest of it. The one thing on which they can all come together is the fact that all of them are seeking to win men and women for Jesus Christ.

I couldn't believe what I was reading!

How could Barclay have written so aptly about what the PC(USA) is going through today?

Barclay first penned these words in 1955. And as true it was then, the church will only get its act together and start living as the church when the church seeks to win men and women for Jesus Christ. That's the primary purpose of the church.

There are many other good reasons for the church exist, but the primary reason why the church exists is to win men and women for Jesus Christ.

It's not that all the other reasons for the church to exist - fellowship, accountability, social justice, etc. - are not bad reasons. They all have their place. They are all good things. They are all necessary things for the church to be healthy. But they are not the primary reason for the church.

I long to be a part of a church and a denomination that is known most of all for its zeal to make Jesus Christ known to men and women who do not know him yet as Lord and Savior of the world.

As long as we forget that and continue to argue about ordination standards and the form of government, I am afraid we will continue our downward spiral into irrelevance. 


Walter L. Taylor said...

I would remind you that when Barclay wrote that, he was responding to conversations going on BETWEEN denominations, not WITHIN them. It was written during a phase of the ecumenical movement when the primary conversation was about what was called "Comparative Ecclesiology," that is, discussions about the differences between the churches regarding ordination and church government (episcopal vs. presbyterial vs. congregational, etc.), as well as the differences in the understanding of the sacraments.

Applying this remark to a battle within a denomination is ripping it entirely out of its context. In fact, in that kind of context, it becomes nonsensical, and is a revisionist use of Barclay as well.

Rev. Walter L. Taylor, Pastor
Oak Island Presbyterian Church

James Kim said...

Walter, appreciate the historical context.

Nav said...

James,when I read comments like the one in this blog I will often ask "What Jesus are you seeking to win others to?" There are many people promoting a Jesus who is not the one we read about in the Bible. As soon as you start identifying the Jesus of the Bible along with what He did, you start to have the very discussions / arguments you lament in this blog.
God's blessings to you,
Matt Ferguson
Hillsboro, IL

James Kim said...

Matt, I still wonder if we can differentiate between primary issues and secondary issues.

For instance, Jesus' exclusive claim that he is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father except through him, is a primary issue.

But how we order the life of the church: will there be elders? bishops? can women serve as leaders? etc.

How we administer the sacraments: who can serve? the particular meanings/understanding of the sacraments?

I think these types/kinds of discussions are in-house discussions and are good and necessary, but they are not primary issues.

I guess the thing I was trying to say in the blog is that when we live in a non-Christian majority world, the thing that we ought to be about is proclaiming Christ and leading people to the acceptance of Christ.

I still wonder if making such distinctions might not be helpful for the life of the church.

Thanks for reading and posting!

James <><

Reforming Gary said...

I read your words and they sound reasonable until I try to apply them to a given circumstance. All issues are connected to all issues. If we worship in error, we give a witness in that form that might not agree with the Gospel we present to the lost. The Gospel is about grace. Grace is unnecessary without guilt. No one forgives an innocent man. When we present the claims of Christ to the lost they might be interested in what the Bible considered to be sin. It is not enough to say, "Don't worry about sin, its all taken care of by the power of the Cross." While in a very sense that is true, in living out that abundant life God so richly offers us, we might want to be clear about is and isn't pleasing to God. After all, our sinful acts have harmful consequences. Even after the Cross God remain holy.