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… As It Is In Heaven

July 13, 2012

In my last two posts (here and here), I made the case that weekly communion was necessary because the church is united to Christ through the Lord’s Supper – it’s where true life is found. I also made the case that because Jesus is King and the church is united to Christ, the church determines just how much Satan and sin affects our world. When the church is worshipping and obeying properly, the world becomes more conformed to God’s Word… and, of course, the opposite is true as well.

Perhaps many who read this are skeptical of this particular view of the sacraments and the kingdom. Given the popular biblical worldviews of many evangelicals today, this would not be surprising. Of course, I contend that the biblical support for my views are abundant and clear, and perhaps I will post more on this subject with regards to theological and exegetical discussion, but I want to draw the reader’s attention to a more practical reason for seriously contemplating my views. I think it’s safe to say that about half of our country is made up of conservative, Bible-believing, church-attending Christians. Maybe this number is a little less, maybe a little more, but I think I’m pretty close to the mark here. This especially becomes obvious around election time or when a major issue like homosexuality or abortion comes to the forefront. Not only is half the country conservative on these issues, they’re passionate as well. Churches are preaching on these topics, bringing awareness to these topics, and fighting for their values and beliefs in regards to these topics. There are a seemingly great number of ministries and institutions established across our nation as a direct result of these issues. Conservative Christians are not silent when it comes to these issues. Just take a look on Facebook for proof.

So what gives? Why, with more than half the country adamantly against homosexuality and abortion, is nothing changing? How come all the protests, all the preaching, all the teaching, all the serving in clinics, all the financial support, and all the voting are not making a dent in the battle against these immoral practices? Even those who somewhat agree with me – that the church must lead the way – are not really seeing much change in the world through their commitment to expositional preaching and teaching. In fact, it seems as if many are panicking because they see the re-election of President Obama being a deadly blow to their fight against these issues, as it’s highly likely he’ll be in a position to appoint a couple of liberal Supreme Court judges during the next term. Clearly the church recognizes they have an important role in the fight, but what exactly does this role entail?

I should mention that there are two aspects in regards to the administration of the sacraments. One aspect deals with the consistent practice of the sacraments (and worship in general) and how it changes the world. This should come as no surprise to evangelicals, seeing as how the majority affirm the efficacy of preaching the gospel. Yet it seems to be a sticking point with this same crowd that God would ordain water, bread, and wine to be equally as effective. Only emphasizing the preaching, though, is like flying a jet with only one engine. Remember the Dream Team? They completely dominated every team they played in the 1992 Summer Olympics. They won every game by an average margin of 44 points. Suppose, though, that they had played the game with only two players. Even if it had been Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, they still would have gotten their butts whooped (Well, they may have won the Angola game, but still…). This is sort of how our American evangelical churches treat worship. Yeah, preaching and prayer is pretty powerful, both capable of putting up a triple-double any given night, but that type of worship is not going to win any medals. And it’s not going to change the world. But at full strength, well, we’re talking triple digit margin of victory.

The other aspect of the sacraments is the relationship of the sacrament to a specific cultural issue. For instance, in a previous post I made the analogy between the Lord’s Supper and marriage. Because the world takes it’s cue from the church, I maintained that if our worship reflected proper spiritual unity through the sacraments, then the world begins to understand how to practice proper physical unity in their relationships with each other. On the one hand, I think this is because when the church worships properly, then their own marriages begin to properly reflect the marriage of Christ to His bride, which sets an example for the world to follow. On the other hand, though, the world is watching the church, and even if this isn’t done consciously, it is looking to the church’s worship for guidance in how to order it’s own life. The world inherently knows that it is incomplete, and it also inherently knows that the church has the answer. The degree to which the world rebels against the church is directly related to how clearly the church proclaims the answer through her worship.

With that said, let’s talk about abortion. We all agree that this is probably the biggest moral issue in our culture today. And, as I’ve already mentioned, the church is barely making a dent in stopping it. Well, the world is watching us. And what do they see? They see a church that doesn’t give life to it’s children. If the sacraments are how life is imparted to the church, and the church withholds these sacraments from it’s children, then our children do not have life. The majority of our evangelical churches believe that children are not mature enough for life in Christ, so they don’t baptize them. The rest of the evangelical churches (and our Catholic brothers and sisters) baptize them, but don’t give them the Lord’s Supper. The world sees this… and they copy us. If we’re adamant about defending the lives of babies in the womb that we will probably never know, why are we not rigorously defending the spiritual lives of our own children by giving them Christ? Heck, not only do we not wash them and feed them, we don’t even let them sit in the worship service to hear the preaching of the Word (you know, the one means of grace that everyone agrees is effectual). Of course, one might make the point that when a child is aborted, their life is ended, whereas when a child is denied life in Christ until she can make a mature profession of faith, at least she can still have life. That may be true… of course, not having life for the first 7 or 8 years of your life is bound to cause some sort of damage… perhaps the kind that causes evangelical youth to leave the church in astounding numbers when they go to college. Just a thought. Here’s another thought. Jesus wants our children to be brought to Him… It’s pretty clearly stated in His Word. If you can’t wrap your head around the theology of it, at least just do it because He told you to. Or maybe just do it for the world.

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