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01 August 2010

Is the Church Singing the Wrong Words? Part Six

Here's a lyric that may seem to defy logic, and as a result we wind up leaning on our own understanding rather than trusting the Lord.

Misheard lyric #6:
"Your growth in numbers will prove to the world that you are My disciples."

Original lyric (John 13:35):
"Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

We look for tangible goals to be met in order to ensure that pastors or churches are doing their jobs. Not a completely crazy idea, but it's one that's frequently taken to the extreme. In some church fellowships each pastor of a particular area has a quota of baptisms to meet in a particular area (youth, children, etc.)! Various denominational groups give accolades to the church that had the most baptisms each year. A nice thought, but that kind of recognition immediately undermines the mission and spirit of the Church and sets up a competition that is often anything but friendly, and certainly not brotherly.

We have to take Jesus' words in context with the entire Word of God, so I'm not suggesting that followers of Christ can engage in reprehensible behavior but show love for one another, thereby convincing the world that even though they have alarmingly carnal lives, they're disciples of Jesus Christ.

The misheard lyric is one that almost no church leaders would claim to embrace. On paper it's almost laughable. However, looking at the competitive nature of churches today and seeing what happens when people start to leave for another fellowship (a subject which deserves its own post), it's hard to argue that most don't believe this.

Here are some things that the Church in America typically embraces and even encourages. It's worth noting that Jesus didn’t say any of these would prove to the world that we’re His disciples:
  • Good theology
  • Good deeds
  • Boycotts
  • Evangelism
  • New Buildings
  • Quantity of Ministries/Programs
  • Growth in numbers
We see in Acts 2:41 that 3,000 people met Christ in one day. But I also see in Acts where people tended to get, well, really mad at the believers who were preaching that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. I read where Jesus wasn’t accepted in his own home town. Not only did the believers often not make converts, but they were thrown in jail. They were beaten. They were killed. Growth in numbers of believers is fantastic, but it’s not a good measure of where we are spiritually, and it doesn’t tell the world that we love Jesus.

"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." - Jesus in John 13:34-35 (NLT)

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