Monday, October 3, 2011

Useless Discussion and "Doing" Church

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Bruce Metzger, who wrote the Bible according to people who don't know better (RSV et NRSV), often commented as I sat near the front row on the second floor of PTS' Hodge Hall, "We could talk about that for a long time; but it's useless discussion."

It brought Ray Backus to mind, a philosophy professor in college, who blasted me for esteeming an egghead program that yielded so much ego-satisfaction as well as scholarship aid to me, "You're just a bunch of ineffectual intellectuals - armchair revolutionaries."


Jesus said something close to that: "If you love Me, you will obey Me."

Luther may not have been big on James; but God was/is.


Donald Macleod, another of my seminary professors who'll be greeting me sooner than later if you know what I mean, often repeated, "Worship is what we say and do when we stand before God realizing in high degree who He is, who we are, and what He calls us to be and do...Worship is our response to God's grace."

Indeed, the word liturgy, from its classical language roots, means something like "the service of the people of God."

In other words, real worship is approaching God in adoration, confession, and thanksgiving, hearing God's Word in Jesus and Holy Scripture as "opened" by the Holy Spirit, and then responding accordingly after the benediction.

In, uh, other words, worship services continue in our worship service of God as enfleshed adoration, confession, and thanksgiving.

Belief confirmed by behavior.

Deeds proving creeds.

Walking the talk.

A measurable proof of kinship with Him is taking Him into the streets as soon as we leave our sanctuaries.

Or something like that.


We have staff lunches to celebrate birthdays; observing two this week on the same day.

Anyone who has children understands why I bought the same thing for both of 'em.

As I was about to package/wrap 'em, I noticed the advisory: "Batteries not included!"


It reminds me of two of Sunday's conversations after "doing" church.

One said, "It's happening in our church. I can feel it. I'm getting so close to God and feeling closer and closer to people in the church; and I just want to love Him and serve Him and..."

Another asked, "What's happened to our church? I don't feel a sense of fellowship with..."

How can two people in the same church have such different experiences?


It reminds me of something very similarly said by Samuel and Jesus: "It's a matter of the heart."

When I teach homiletics, I teach a valuable insight taught to me: "There are three parties to every sermon: God, preacher, and hearer."

If the preacher has a heart for God, she/he delivers a message that is true to Him.

If the hearer has a heart for God, she/he hears a message that is true to Him through His.

It's the same with a church's whole life and ministry.

Batteries not included.

You've got to...


Tug McGraw.

Remember him?

Starting/relief pitcher for those amazin' Mets back in the late 60s and early 70s.

Anyway, as the Mets were in the thick of a pennant race culminating in a World Series Championship, McGraw kept urging/warning, "You gotta believe!"

And, of course, you gotta behave like you believe if you're gonna...

That's the difference between efficacy and useless discussion.

Metzger, Backus, Macleod, and, uh, Jesus keep coming to mind.

Maybe that's why some of our sisters/brothers keep talking about "doing" church.



Blessings and Love!

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