Marvin G. Thompson: Guarding the Heart of the Church

What would be your reaction to me saying that the Church is being defiled? I mean, given all that is happening with what many have come to acknowledge as an ill-advised relationship between particular segments of the Church and politics, and the moral and ethical compromise born of that relationship, wouldn’t you say so? Or would you say that I am overreacting — that the Church has to form alliances to preserve its religious liberty and forward its social agenda, and cannot guarantee that every ally is morally upright?

Let me begin by addressing the insinuation that a simple association does not necessarily mean compromise. When it comes to God’s economy, there is no such thing as a simple or innocuous association if that association abets ungodliness in any way. Even though Jesus ate and fellowshipped with sinners, they were never left with any doubt that they needed to change their ways. And, importantly, Jesus never excused or adopted any of their ways; he never made an alliance with them in any way. The same cannot be said for the Church in America today.

The introduction to The Heart of the Church, by Joe Thorn, speaks of the church’s heart condition as sick with “lethargy, joylessness, fruitlessness, and weakening faith.” The church, it states, is “captivated by issues of secondary importance” having “let one particular issue, rather than the whole gospel, characterize the whole of their ministry.” Furthermore, these “issue-driven” churches which are “either conservative or liberal,” “get the gospel right on paper but are animated and directed by other principles.”

The Church has a heart. For me, the heart of the Church is organic and consists primarily of the collective hearts of every believer. That in turn ought to reflect the heart of our Lord, which means a standard of righteousness and holiness that is uncompromising in all that we are and what we do. That is why we are advised in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

The “issues” Joe Thorn speaks of range from cultural to doctrinal. His focus is on the centrality of the gospel to the meaning and purpose of the church. While I agree wholeheartedly with him, there is one condition of the heart that concerns me deeply, and I will take a different approach to focus on the mode of administrating cultural issues. I want to talk about cultural compromise and the methods applied to accomplish the church’s cultural causes, and how those methods reflect what is in the heart and consequently defile the church.

We may not consider those who dabble in politics and take advantage of the unethical ways and means of political maneuvering, to be a part of the true Church. We know intuitively that what they are doing is wrong, and that the true Church of God would not engage in those practices. But still, we allow it with only token objections, and bask in the benefits thereof. We consider them friends and allies, and promote them and urge others to support them. That is compromising. That is aiding. What is it about us the Church that allows for that to be?

The past two years have seen the Church lurch towards what it sees as a long awaited victory in the culture wars, namely on issues of abortion, same sex marriage, religious freedom (primarily the right for believers to refuse to perform certain services in cases where they object on religious grounds and conscience), and filling the courts with judges who share those beliefs. But the road to this moment in history has not been paved with honor or virtue. If victory is realized, will it be true, lasting victory or a transient, Pyrrhic victory? Because of the shenanigans of many culture warriors on the Church’s behalf, its witness to truth, rectitude, and godliness is tarnished for a generation or more.

The heart of the Church is the heart of the people. Flawed, broken, sick, troubled, all kinds and types of people make up the Church. But their condition going in is not the reason why the Church is defiled. It is what comes out of the people that concerns the Lord. Matt 15:17-19 says, “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” As long as we continue on this side of eternity, because we are men and women who act out what is in our hearts, our actions will continue to characterize the Church.

Click here to read more.
Source: Christian Post