“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
-John 15; 5 -7
Do our churches bear the fruits of the spirit?
- Self Control
Save for a couple exceptions, I’ve found that the churches in lower Bucks County, PA have been showing the fruits of the spirit to the homeless and needy guests for whom they have graciously provided meals, as well as fellowship.
Throughout the history of the church, people have strayed from God’s Word and have gone their own way. In Sunday school we’ve been studying the journey of the apostle Paul and company as they visited the early churches.
When the apostles visited the church in Athens, they found the church quickly polluted God’s Word with pagan Greek ideas. Fidelity to scriptures was compromised.
Fast forward to the church in America. For the most part, churches were true to God’s Word in the late 18th and 19th centuries here. By the early 20th century, when the United States was under the influence of kooky French culture, as well as a kook from England, Virginia Woolf, the church started importing wordly ideas.
A Westminster seminary student I worked with told me that orthodox Protestant churches have more in common with the Roman Catholic Church than they do with their liberal counterparts, even in the same denomination. Westminster seminary was a result of a split at Princeton seminary by theologians who had a problem with the worldly modernist views that had crept into the seminary in 1929.
Today, especially since the 60’s, churches in America have strayed, like a wayward child, from the truth. They have succumbed to the world by preaching that homosexuality and same sex marriage is OK. Some churches even perform same sex marriages.
A recent example of a church not following God’s ways, not showing fruits of the spirit is the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Penndel, PA. http://redeemerlutheranpenndel.org/
A man in need, who happens to be a senior citizen and a ten year military veteran was turned away at the door. When he asked why, the hosts snarled at him and said that he had caused problems at the last meal — that he was saying bad things about the homeless.
They dismissed him and threatened to call the police just for asking for further explanation and to ask for someone in charge. It’s interesting that the church’s founder, Martin Luther started a tradition where church leaders can be challenged by anyone. Holy irony, Batman!
The truth is that some people in the homeless and needy community, who go to the meals, have been spreading false witness and have been attacking him in Lynch mob style. Instead of doing what’s right and maintaining order like Marshall Matt Dillon, the hosts and Christine from the Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) acted like Lord Neville Chamberlain and appeased the mob.
At the previous monthly meal at the Redeemer Lutheran church, a drunk homeless man had to be restrained when he tried to attack the man. The hosts and Christine were right there. I was sitting across from him. The guy showed great restraint, yet when the police came, he was asked to leave, as the officer said, at the request of the host.
Redeemer used the man as a scapegoat rather than stand on principle.
Check out Proverbs 18
1 An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends
and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.
2 Fools find no pleasure in understanding
but delight in airing their own opinions.
3 When wickedness comes, so does contempt,
and with shame comes reproach.
4 The words of the mouth are deep waters,
but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.
5 It is not good to be partial to the wicked
and so deprive the innocent of justice.
6 The lips of fools bring them strife,
and their mouths invite a beating.
7 The mouths of fools are their undoing,
and their lips are a snare to their very lives.
8 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to the inmost parts.
9 One who is slack in his work
is brother to one who destroys.
10 The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.
11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city;
they imagine it a wall too high to scale.
12 Before a downfall the heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.
13 To answer before listening—
that is folly and shame.
14 The human spirit can endure in sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?
15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
for the ears of the wise seek it out.
16 A gift opens the way
and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.
17 In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right,
until someone comes forward and cross-examines.
18 Casting the lot settles disputes
and keeps strong opponents apart.
19 A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city;
disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.
20 From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled;
with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.
21 The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.
22 He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the Lord.
23 The poor plead for mercy,
but the rich answer harshly.
24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Another example of a fruit rotting on the vine is the Salvation Army. At the community meals at the Levittown community center, the social services director, known by volunteers as “Queen Latifah”, shows little humility as she talks to the homeless and needy there as if they were criminals or children, with a very unloving, unkind, and a non forbearing attitude. The command at this Salvation Army branch does not want to mess with the queen.
Political correctness trumps the fruits of the spirit.
For most of the churches that host the community meals, however, people can tell they are Christians by their love. See my blog We’re So Glad You’re Here.
The church needs to practice and preach God’s Word and not compromise it by selling out to the world.
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
2 Corinthians 5:20