Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Living in the Real Church

Randy Moody has written Living in the Real Church about the “one another” verses, which dictate to Christians how we should treat one another.  This is one of the books which has sat in my basement for years.  Before I got married, I had a lot more free time.  I shopped for books and read a lot more.  I amassed a huge library.  With the entry of small kids to my life, I have read much less.  So, those books have sat on shelves in the basement for years.  Robby wants to renovate the basement, so I have been slowly going through those books and donating then to our church library after I read them. 
This one had a lot of interesting nuggets:
-          There are four levels of dealing with Scripture: reading, meditating, praying, and doing.  Satan is not harmed by us merely reading Scripture, but as we increase our involvement with Scripture, Satan is challenged and harmed.

-          Moody uses lots of stories to make his point (I love that!).  A thief goes to a house that is under construction.  There is a half built brick wall, with mortar holding it altogether.  Next to the wall is a pile of bricks.  Will the thief tear apart the wall to get the interlocking bricks?  No, he would take the individual bricks which are free and unattached.  The members of the body of Christ should be like the interlocking, mortared bricks in the wall.  For Satan or the world to get one of us, it should require great effort and an impact on other Christians around us.

-          I am not sure if this story is true, but I hope it is!  Mahatma Gandhi, while a law student in South Africa, tried to visit a church in South Africa.  He wanted to learn more about the teachings of Jesus.  At the church door, he was told he could not come in because of his skin color and he had to attend a different church.  Gandhi concluded that “if Christianity has caste systems, then I might as well stay a Hindu.”  What a missed opportunity for the Christian faith.  Gandhi went on to become perhaps the most influential Indian ever … he led a great movement.  Imagine if his followers became Christians?  Even just half of his followers?  Imagine if the country of India were Christian, and not Hindu and Muslim.   Imagine the influence it could have on its neighbors … a Christian Pakistan?

-          Moody relates another story that I don’t know if it is true or not, but I hope it is.  The story brilliantly illustrates his point.  Astronomer Sir Lowell Percival was particularly interested in the study of Mars.  In 1877 Percival heard that another astronomer had seen lines crisscrossing the planet of Mars.  Intrigued, Percival spent years staring at the planet mars through a telescope and mapping the canals and roads which he saw on Mars.  He was convinced that there was intelligent life on Mars, with an advanced civilization.  He mapped the entire planet and was absolutely convinced of what he saw.  Unfortunately, the scarlet lines he thought he saw through the telescope were actually the crimson veins of his own optical orbs.  He had a rare eye disease.  The malady is now known as “Lowell’s Syndrome,” and refers to projecting faults of our own (like the red lines in his eyes) on others.  It can also refer to believing something exists and subconsciously creating evidence to prove our point.

-          Isolation is the greatest temptation.  It is greater than lust, pride, greed, theft, dishonesty, and hatred.  All other sins are incubated in isolation.  Satan tries to separate us from other Christians so he can tempt the loner with voices we would not normally listen to if we were surrounded by other Christians.

-          We tend to use prayer as a last resort.  In the hospital when the doctors say “we’ve tried everything, the disease did not respond to the treatments as we hoped.”  We respond by praying.  When parents have lot a child to the world, they turn to counselors, police intervention, drug rehab facilities, family therapy sessions.  When all else has failed, the parents turn to prayer.

-          When we are in bad situations, we can pray one of two ways: “God, get me out of this mess” OR "God, use me in this mess.”

-          What is the difference between admonition and correction?  According to Moody, Admonition is not merely naked correction, it points to a better way.  It always includes instruction.  It stops behavior which is potentially damaging and explains why the behavior is unproductive and gives the child something better to do.

-          The African White Ant is similar to the termite.  It eats wood from the inside out.  But, termites leave little piles of sawdust and other signs of their presence.  Apparently (I have not independently verified Moody’s claims) the African White Ant can destroy wood with no signs.  A homeowner will simply lean against a wall which, unbeknownst to him, this Ant has destroyed.  Instead of the wall supporting his weight, the wall would simply collapse.  Hidden infestations can also, unbeknownst to us, destroy our church.  Individual Christians can be hollow on the inside.
Most people do not die from external agents (bullets, car wrecks, industrial accidents, etc.).  Instead, most people die from internal agents (cancer, heart failure, infections, etc.)  Satan attacks the body of Christ the same way: from within.  The external agents are more obvious, more insidious.  We can brace ourselves against them and protect ourselves from them.  But the internal agents develop slowly, sometimes without our notice.  Like our physical bodies, our spiritual lives need regular check-ups.

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