Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Uniting to Transform Because We Have Been Transformed

The Pastor’s Perspective
“Uniting to Transform Because We Have Been Transformed”
First Published: August 31, 2000

My mind is flooded with many responses to such a moral outrage. Too many to mention here. But among them are these thoughts. I wonder if we (conservative Christians living in this Beulah Land of Mississippi) have been desensitized to the infanticide going on all around us in our own land. Does it shock us any more? I wonder how long it will be before our culture will be able to embrace, with only the faintest suppressed twinge of conscience, euthanasia and infanticide – careening as it is down the road in that direction. Will Planned Parenthood and the Hemlock society win the moral high ground? They will. They surely will, if we remain silent and passive.

Now, how can you address anything else in a column when you’ve mentioned something like that? Well, probably, you can’t. But I’ll beg your indulgence.

As we face a world trying to kill itself, we simply must face it as a family: a deliberate, Christian, caring family. I’m profoundly thankful for what the WIC are doing to minister in this regard. A few months ago, Winona Costello reminded me of a convicting comment from John Stott, says: “the world’s...challenge, then, concerns the quality of the church’s fellowship. We proclaim that God is love, and that Jesus Christ offers true community. We insist that the church is part of the gospel. God's purpose, we say, is not merely to save isolated individuals, and so perpetuate their loneliness, but to build a church, to create a new society, even a new humanity, in which racial, national, social and sexual barriers have been abolished. Moreover, this new community of Jesus dares to present itself as the true alternative society, which eclipses the values and standards of the world. It is a high-sounding claim. But the tragedy is that the church has consistently failed to live up to its own ideals. Its theological understanding of its calling may be impeccable. But comparatively speaking, there is little acceptance, little caring and little supportive love among us.”

That hits where it hurts. Do we really care for one another as we ought? Is the fact that we are fellow believers part of a local congregation called First Presbyterian, something that really transcends all our differences and knits us together? If it doesn’t then it is a sure sign that we don’t know just how radical is the biblical idea of the Church.

What could make us this way, then? What could transform us? Drummond was surely right about this when he said: “Souls are not made sweet by taking [ill tempers] out, but by putting something in: a great Love, a new Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. Christ, the Spirit of Christ, interpenetrating ours, sweetens, purifies, transforms all. This can only eradicate what is wrong, renovate and regenerate, and rehabilitate the inner man. Will-power does not change men. Time does not change men. Christ does. Therefore ‘Let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.’” (Henry Drummond, The Greatest Thing in the World [1892])

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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