Thursday, October 20, 2011
I’m glad it is not my place to determine who/what constitutes the Body of Christ. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me has everlasting life.” That seems to indicate that those who place their faith in Christ become a part of the corpus Christi, the body of Christ. Paul, the apostle seems to modify that somewhat by indicating that those whose habitual behavior violates a standard of holiness “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” It seems we are intended to live within that tension between grace-based-on-faith and works-demonstrating-faith. It keeps us in a state of uncertainty about our own performance while nonetheless confident that “he is able to keep that which we have committed unto Him against that day.” None of us measures up to the standard of righteousness our fellow human beings wish to require of us, certainly not that which we require of ourselves.
These thoughts occur to me often when I consider those I know who profess to be believers in Jesus Christ but whose behaviors are, in my opinion, an embarrassment to the kingdom of God. I know, though, that every family has to accept the “embarrassment” occasioned by certain of its members. Certainly the corpus Christi is not an exception.
But we also have the statement of Jesus that “not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord’,” will be admitted to the eternal kingdom. There are forms of godliness that claim to be “Christian” but fall short of being so. And there are individuals who, though pretending to be (or even believing themselves to be) Christian, are not. How are we to judge such things?
Jesus told a parable of the wheat and the tares (weeds). After the farmer planted his wheat, an enemy sowed weed seed in his field. When the wheat and weeds sprouted it was not easy to remove the weeds without damaging the wheat, so he instructed his workers to let them grow together until the harvest. Then the wheat would be gathered into the barn and the weeds bundled for burning. How hard it must have been for the keepers of those fields to wait for the day when the wheat and weeds would be separated.
Much of the behavior I see in professing Christians looks more to me like weeds than wheat. I wish those behaviors did not exist, and wish even more that those displaying such behaviors did not make claims to be Christian. But I must wait – impatiently – until the harvest, and allow God to sort out the wheat from the weeds. And I need to pray that He will find me to be real wheat.
In the meantime I have to decide what to do about the weeds around me. I’d like to believe they could be turned to wheat – an unlikely thing in the plant kingdom but not impossible in the kingdom of God. And so I’m on the lookout for weed-like behaviors. When I see them in that which claims to be the corpus Christi, or in myself, I call it out for what it is. When I see what appears to me to be genuine weed, parading among, and claiming to be the wheat, I point it out. When I see wheat behaving like weeds, I say so.
Much of the purpose of this blog is to call for wheat to be wheat; to grow, even though surrounded by weeds and their anti-Christian influence, into a wholesome harvest that will make Him who planted them pleased with what they have become.