Curiosity Kills Your Soul

 

By Matthew Wireman

“Men must not be too curious in prying into the weaknesses of others. We should labour rather to see what they have that is for eternity, to incline our heart to love them, than into that weakness which the Spirit of God will in time consume, to estrange us. Some think it strength of grace to endure nothing in the weaker, whereas the strongest are readiest to bear with the infirmities of the weak” (Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed, 33).

I have been reading Sibbes’ work on the mercy of Christ toward us. The book is an extended meditation on Isaiah 42.1-3. I have been reading it in my personal devotions, and I have been reminded by Christ’s persevering patience with me. How often have I been a smoking flax–a reed that does not give off heat nor light–yet the Lord does not view such paltry devotion as condemnable. Rather, he condescends and fans into flame that smoldering wick so that I can enjoy him more. What may seem like an endless cycle of failed attempts, he views the good.

Sibbes, here, challenges us to reflect the same merciful inclination in our dealings with others. How quick am I to write off someone who rubs me the wrong way. How sure I am that this person is weak in faith and in need of rebuke. How dead set on dealing out justice am I that I cannot see God’s mercy on display in my brother.

I am a curious fellow. Yet, Sibbes challenges the assumption that curiosity–the need to know the intricacies of someone’s sin or weaknesses–is not altogether noble. Rather, curiosity bends toward an inclination to judging again the one whom God has pronounced “not guilty” in his tribunal. The need to gather all pertinent information stems from a desire to sit in the dock and pronounce on others what I would not dare they know or pronounce on me.

Our tendency should be towards wanting to see the good in others, not digging up graves that have been long-sealed when this brother put his faith in the Christ.

“What about leaders?” someone may ask. “Aren’t they held to a different standard?” Surely the pastor will be held to a stricter judgment, that’s why he shouldn’t be too quick to assume the office (James 3.1). Yet, the judgment James speaks about is the Final Judgment performed by the Triune God. This is not an earthly tribunal, nor is it an ad hoc court set up in the figment of our own minds. Rather, God pleads with us to exercise judgment with mercy (James 2.13).

Surely, a leader who sins repeatedly must be rebuked. A leader who is unrepentant must be ousted. But the leader who sins, and seeks forgiveness, should be forgiven. We should not exact perfection, nor should we use a canon distinct from our own lives.

I fear that those who so quickly give in to curiosity will find that the proclivity toward mercy will show that they had not received mercy. Those who so quickly write off Scripture’s admonition to cover over sin with love will grope for this kindness and find it wanting toward them.

May we be quick to forgive and slow to condemn. May we entrust right judgment to God. And as we find ourselves in the already-not yet, may we admonish the unrepentant. As we live in the time between the times, may we proactively and persistently give mercy. A mercy that is imperfect, but perpetual. To the degree that we have received mercy, may we give such beautiful and resplendent mercy.

Change is possible!

By Jeremy Oddy

Consider reading over the quote below for encouragement.  Read each line carefully and slowly and meditate over each principle as your heart becomes full of the love of Christ in what he has done for you, doing in you, and will do for you.  And know this, he is doing the same thing in your spouse, friend, child, and anyone else who is in Christ.

Paul Tripp writes:

Change is possible because the King has come!  In all of this, God’s ultimate goal is his own glory. Christ came to restore people to the purpose they were made for: to live every aspect of their lives in worshipful, obedient submission to him.  He accomplishes this by breathing life into dead hearts so that we grasp our need for him.  He lives sinlessly, keeping the law on our behalf.  He lays down his life as a penalty for sin, so that we can be fully forgiven.  He adopts us into his family, giving us all the rights and privileges of his children.  He daily conforms us to his own image.  He enables us by his grace to do what is right.  His Spirit lives inside us, convicting of sin, illuminining truth, and giving us the power to obey.  He places us in the body of Christ where we can learn and grow.  He rules over every event for his glory and our good.  He makes us the objects of his eternal, redemptive love. The Bible calls this change redemption.  We are not only changed, we are restored to God.  This is what makes all other change possible (Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand, 6-7).

Praise God!  We are a blessed people indeed!  So, we know that this is all true.  However, we can sometimes forget or not believe one or a few of these truths in our own lives.  Talk to a friend or your spouse about some of these truths that you tend to forget or not believe at times.  Ask God for help, because all of our hope is based on a Person, not on our (or someone else’s) performance or a principle.

M28 Connect

We are excited to announce a new initiative that is being led by Adam Renstrom that is setting out to help our college students that participate in M28 become apart of CrossWay and get to know the families here at CrossWay.

Adam will be sharing with us more this Sunday about M28 Connect and how you can be a part of this awesome group! Adam also wanted to give you a little preview of this announcement and thought there was no better way to do this than with this awesome video! enjoy!

OWNERSHIP AS SACRIFICE

Brad House » Mission Church Evangelism Community

Does our community own the mission of God for our church, or do we just agree with it?

THE INSUFFICIENCY OF MERE AGREEMENT

Agreement simply means that people like the idea of the mission and are excited about someone at the church carrying it out. They may not, and probably don’t, see themselves as the church, or at least not the part of the church that lives out the mission.

This manifests in casual attendance and participation in programs and events that serve their needs but don’t require anything of them. Agreement can even involve serving in various ministries if the bar is low enough—but if the mission is not owned, if it is not internalized within the people, then they will not take risks for the sake of the gospel. They won’t risk comfort, time, money, or self-interest for the mission to see Jesus glorified.

OWNERSHIP AS SACRIFICE

Our churches are filled with people who agree with the mission but do not own it. Ownership is marked by joy-filled sacrifice that sees kingdom work as a “get to” because of what Christ has done, rather than a “got to” out of Christian duty.

Ownership looks like people serving the church and the city with a passion for the gospel. It looks like people cheerfully and sacrificially giving out of love for Jesus to see the work of the gospel move forward. Ownership looks like people participating in the messiness of community and being inconvenienced for the sake of another’s sanctification.

OWN THE PROCLAMATION

If we want to be a missional church that sees the lives in our cities transformed by the gospel, we must foster a holy discontentment with the status quo and resist apathy toward God’s mission. Compelled by the grace of God manifested in the atoning work of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection, we can take ownership of proclaiming the truth of the gospel and living it out in community.

If you are “in Christ,” be very encouraged!

By Jeremy Oddy

A good friend of mine recently pointed out to me an excellent article by John Piper.  I encourage you to read the whole thing here.  What I want to point out in this article is what it means to be “in Christ,” if you are a true disciple of Jesus Christ.  Piper inserted the name “Carl” in the list below.  I took out “Carl” (sorry Carl) and inserted a blank and made some minor changes, so that you can insert your name, or someone else’s name, as a way or tool to help each other remember and be amazed of what it means to be “in Christ.”

Piper writes, “Being in Christ is a stupendous reality. It is breathtaking what it means to be in Christ. United to Christ. Bound to Christ. This is the phrase in the text that changes everything.”  Piper is referring to 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18.  See the list below on what it means for you to be in Christ Jesus:

  • In Christ Jesus, ________ is given grace before the world was created. 2 Timothy 1:9: “He gave us grace in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”
  • In Christ Jesus, ________ is chosen by God before creation. Ephesians 1:4: “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.”
  • In Christ Jesus, ________ is loved by God with an inseparable love. Romans 8:38–39: “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • In Christ Jesus, ________ is redeemed and forgiven for all his or her sins. Ephesians 1:7: “In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.”
  • In Christ Jesus, ________ is justified before God and the righteousness of God in Christ is imputed to him. 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
  • In Christ Jesus, ________ became a new creation and a son or daughter of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Galatians 3:26: “In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”
  • In Christ Jesus, ________ is seated in the heavenly place even while he or she lives on earth. Ephesians 2:6: “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
  • In Christ Jesus, all the promises of God are Yes for ________. 2 Corinthians 1:20: “All the promises of God find their Yes in Christ.”
  • In Christ Jesus, ________ is being sanctified and made holy. 1 Corinthians 1:2: “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus.
  • In Christ Jesus, everything ________ really needs is supplied. Philippians 4:19: “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
  • In Christ Jesus, the peace of God guards the heart and mind of ________. Philippians 4:7: “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
  • In Christ Jesus, ________ has eternal life. Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • And in Christ Jesus, ________ will be raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:22: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” All those united to Adam in the first humanity die. All those united to Christ in the new humanity rise to live again.

If you want encouragement as a disciple of Jesus Christ, read this list with your name inserted over and over until your faith increases with this amazing truth and reality: you are in Christ!

Numbers in the Church: Is Bigger Badder or Better?

KEVIN DEYOUNG|

I’ve heard it from both sides, if not always so forthrightly.

“How many people now go to that church? It’s huge! It must be the music. Or maybe they have lasers and a smoke machine. I hope we never sell out like that.”

Or,

“How many people even go to that church? It’s so small! They haven’t baptized a believer in years. Their influence and importance is basically nil. I hope we are never irrelevant like that.”

I realize people rarely state their opinions so candidly, but the sentiments are out there. And both sides have a point. Some big churches are more show than substance. They may have thousands of people, but they sacrificed maturity, depth, truth-driven preaching, biblical ecclesiology, and maybe even the gospel to get there. On the other hand, some small churches are backward and insulated. They may talk a big game about standing for truth, but their small size is less about gospel courage than the fact that they are hyper-critical, dated in the worst ways, and unconcerned about the lost.

Churches can be big or small for all the right reasons. Or for all the wrong reasons. We simply should not conclude that bigger is better or smaller is more sanctified. In God’s eyes, the success of your church and your pastor are measured by criteria more important than weekend attendance. While we must not be scared of bigger numbers or automatically skeptical of them–numbers in the best cases represent people after all, people who are hearing the gospel and bearing fruit–neither should we fixate on numbers. Every church is different, with varying locations, gifts, opportunities, abilities, facilities, people, and cultural contexts that we can’t possibly be so crass as to think big churches are always doing things better than small churches. Surely, the emphasis must be on faithfulness.

If a blessed forgetfulness about numbers seems anti-missional, we should listen to Leslie Newbigin, still one of the most seminal theologians in missional circles as he summarizes the New Testament approach to numbers:

Reviewing, then, the teaching of the New Testament, one would have to say that, on the one hand, there is joy in the rapid growth of the church in its earliest days, but that, on the other hand, there is no evidence that the numerical growth of the church is a matter of primary concern.

There is no shred of evidence in Paul’s letters to suggest that he judged the churches by the measure of their success in rapid numerical growth, nor is there anything comparable to the strident cries of some contemporary evangelists that the salvation of the world depends upon the multiplication of believers.

There is an incomparable sense of seriousness and urgency as the apostle contemplates the fact that he and all people “must appear before the judgment seat of Christ” and as he acknowledges the constraint of Jesus’ love and the ministry of reconciliation that he has received (2 Cor. 5:10-21). But this nowhere appears as either an anxiety or an enthusiasm about the numerical growth of the church. (The Open Secret, 126).

Wise words. We love to see more people loving Jesus and living in greater accordance to his commands, but we should not think church size, when judged by the only Judge that really matters, is a reliable measure of a church’s success or a pastor’s faithfulness.