A Puffed Up Church

A young man was being interviewed for a job. The employer held a glowing letter of reference and complimented the potential employee on such an impressive letter. With modesty came the reply, “I’m glad you liked it. I wrote it myself” Pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18), and it also goes before a lot of hot air. The world is filled with puffed up people who hold themselves in the highest esteem. But in 1st Corinthians 4, the apostle Paul is addressing a puffed up church! “Now some are puffed up” (verse 18; also verses 6, 19). The Greek word is phusioo (pronounced `foo-see-o’-o”), defined by Strong’s Concordance as “blowing; to inflate, make proud (haughty); puff up.” The Corinthians were a proud, haughty, puffed up bunch. They felt good about themselves. As a matter of fact, they felt better about themselves than the Lord did! They had written their own glowing letter of reference, had read it, and were very impressed with what it said. In 1st Corinthians 4:7-13 Paul gives a pointed portrayal of just how puffed up they were. They saw themselves as “full, rich, reigning as kings, wise, strong, distinguished.” Study carefully and you will find this is a case where an inspired Bible writer uses sharp irony (an expression in which the intended meaning of the words is ‘the opposite of their usual sense). Paul employs this technique in an effort to puncture their puffed-up pride and jerk them back to spiritual reality.

The point, of course, is not to suggest we ought to feel bad for feeling good about the church. The problem was not that the Corinthian church was rich and full. Christians, after all, enjoy what Paul called in another place the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). The problem at Corinth was what they were full of — themselves! Church pews can be occupied by puffed up people who, spiritually, have become as snug as a bug under a rug. Nice jobs, nice homes, a nice income, a nice building, a nice budget, nice preachers, nice elders, nice worship services, and a nice membership can puff us up with a sense of accomplishment and pride to the point that we become stagnant and complacent in our spiritual lives and work for the Lord. When this happens, we begin to “keep house for the Lord” instead of storming our neighbors and the world with the gospel. Words from Revelation 3:16-17 ought to puncture the pride of any Christian or congregation puffed up with self-conceit and pride — “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’; and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” When we feel better about ourselves than the Lord does, we are puffed up with pride.

Dan Gulley – Smithville Church of Christ

#1-corinthians, #church-problems, #lessons-for-the-church, #pride

There Was No Love at Home for Jesus!

Mark 6 begins and ends in an interesting way. These verses are like polar opposites of each other in their description of the reaction and feelings people had toward Jesus. Think about these verses with me for a moment.

The chapter begins with Jesus only being able to heal a few people in his own neck-of-the-woods in Nazareth. This wasn’t due to a lack of interest or ability on Jesus’ part. It was due to a lack of interest on the people’s part. The people had heard about what Jesus was doing, and they had even heard his teaching with their own ears in their own synagogue, but all they could see was a carpenter, a son of Mary and a brother to siblings who, no doubt in their opinion, were no better than Jesus, religiously speaking. They were offended by this blue-collar preacher! To describe their reaction, the Bible in Basic English translates the commonly used word “offended” as “bitter.” They were bitter toward Jesus because this small town man had no proper right to be such a big deal throughout all Judea. They had no love for Jesus, and Jesus’ response to this is interesting. He summed up their treatment of him by saying:

“…A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” (Mark 6:4 – NKJV)

The chapter ends with Jesus coming ashore in a different “section of the woods.” It only took a trip of about 15 miles down the road to Gennesaret for Jesus to be received with a different type of reaction from the people. Jesus was treated like an outcast in his hometown of Nazareth, but while Jesus was in Gennesaret he was treated as if he “had never left.” Instead of being bitter toward Jesus these people were beside themselves in a good way. In Nazareth, no one knew Jesus for who he really was, but in Gennesaret the people recognized Jesus as soon as he got out of the boat. In Nazareth, the hot topic was derogatory rumors, while in Gennesaret the exciting word about Jesus’ arrival spread like wildfire. Jesus got nothing but grief in the synagogues in Nazareth, but in Gennesaret people were joyfully eager to meet him in the marketplaces. In Nazareth, people ran from Jesus, but in Gennesaret people ran to Jesus. Only a few people were healed by Jesus’ hands in Nazareth due to unbelief, but in Gennesaret there were people being healed simply by touching the hem of his robe. Listen to how the scene throughout Gennesaret was described:

Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.” (Mark 6:56 – NKJV)

Jesus was the same person at the end of the chapter that he was in the beginning of the chapter, so what gives? What gave was love. There was no love in the ole’ hometown of Nazareth. There was no heart at home for Jesus. The people he grew up around and the people who grew older around him took Jesus for granted, and there are some big lessons in that for the church! I don’t want to make a stretch out of the application, but I must ask, “Is it possible for people outside of the church to have a stronger desire to meet Jesus than people inside of the church?” I must ask, “Is it possible that those who have grown older in the church have failed to grow up in the church?” I must ask, “Is it possible to neglect the “touch of Jesus” while others are more than happy to touch the “border of his garments”?” I must ask, “Is it possible for the church to have no love at home for Jesus?” I could ask more questions, but I think the answers to these should suffice! And lest you think that people in the church can’t be guilty of these things, I would encourage you to read Revelation 2:1-5.

Let us learn the lesson of how Nazareth and Gennesaret treated Jesus. Let us not be guilty of thinking that we know Jesus in a way that keeps us from knowing Jesus in his way. Let us not be guilty of ignoring his word or the help he can offer. Let us not be guilty of having no love for Jesus in the place where love for him should be found the most – at home in his church.

Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.” But He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.“” (Mark 3:31-35)

#christianity, #gennesaret, #gospel-according-to-mark, #heart, #jesus, #lessons-for-the-church, #love, #nazareth