From the monthly archives:

September 2008

Finding the Old Paths

September 1, 2008

finding_old_paths

Stand Ye in the way and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good path, and walk therein, and you shall find rest for your soul.  But they said, we will not walk therein.

Jeremiah 6:16

When Israel put Egypt in their rearview mirror they were clueless how to live.  Four hundred years of slavery had destroyed all sense of propriety for living.  That gives us a clue why God had to tell the people not to eat buzzards, diseased animals, and bugs.  (See Deuteronomy 14)  Good sense and civility are destroyed when generations pass without order.

The Law given by God to Moses was not difficult simply because so much of it made sense.  It was Law and Holy because it returned God’s people to the path of a healthy and humble society, one that could stand the rigors of time and constant heathen influence by placing confidence in God.  In other words, the Law was given to people who were lawless due to the slavery they had lived in.  Having forgotten how to live, the practical “how to’s” of life were given back to them from a loving God.  Having lost sight of the old paths God began at square one with instructions concerning civility and simple ways to live healthy lives.
Old paths are not to be confused with the way things have been done in the past.  It is not an admonition to do it the same way it has been done before.  Instead, it is the ancient ways of obedience, worship, and  humility that are being noted.  These paths are as ancient as the Garden and yet are easily lost when generation are enslaved by the heathen culture they have foolishly befriended.
That is where I see much of the church today.  Having been captured by heathen culture several generations ago, many young adults, the future leaders of the church, are clueless as to the ancient paths.  Please don’t remind me that all you have to do is read the Bible and do it.  The problem is that many today have never seen the Bible exampled for them with lives lived with obedience, worship, and humility.  Having been raised in church-going homes (read “Christian”) yet polluted by divorce, hypocritical living, and abuse young families that have never witnessed the old paths are clueless as to where to begin.
Preaching in today’s church consists mostly of more knowledge, which puffs up, and simple one-two-three’s designed to fix life without really changing.  Instead of instruction about the old paths, many churches are trying to find safe passage through the same heathen ideals they have adopted.
Sounds like I’m ranting and raving?  I’m not.  I’m just observing the new challenges for the Church that I see ahead.  Many people who attend church are the average age of late thirties to early forties and have children in elementary school.  Most would say they are from Christian homes yet most have experienced divorce and family dysfunction to the point where they do not function well in marriage or parenting.  Further, they are capable of seeing everyone else’s issues other than their own.  Another way to say it is that they have adopted the role of the victim.
They know the simple instructions of husbands love your wife and wives respect your husbands but do not know the path to that goal.  Simply telling them to do the Word does not work.  Many are blinded by never having seen healthy families in their past.  So what is “square one” for these?  How does the church get back to teaching civility and simplicity that lead to healthy lives?  This, I believe, is the church’s challenge over the next decade.
The great need in communities today is for churches that look, act, and live like the Bible.  Churches that  can do more than describe what life should look like and fabricate Sunday services that are no more than candy for the soul.  Call them churches of healing, cities of refuge or anything else you like, just do more than write a vision statement, create core values and design a website.
It will take a major shift in thinking and a deep desire for change to do more than the status quo.  After all, to hide away in nice buildings behind good programs might feel like fulfilling the Great Commission but it can also look too much like whitewashed tombs filled with powerless religion.  Remember, it’s not just about finding the ancient path but having the willingness to walk on it that makes the difference.

The Law given by God to Moses was not difficult simply because so much of it made sense.  It was Law and Holy because it returned God’s people to the path of a healthy and humble society, one that could stand the rigors of time and constant heathen influence by placing confidence in God.  In other words, the Law was given to people who were lawless due to the slavery they had lived in.  Having forgotten how to live, the practical “how to’s” of life were given back to them from a loving God.  Having lost sight of the old paths God began at square one with instructions concerning civility and simple ways to live healthy lives.

Old paths are not to be confused with the way things have been done in the past.  It is not an admonition to do it the same way it has been done before.  Instead, it is the ancient ways of obedience, worship, and  humility that are being noted.  These paths are as ancient as the Garden and yet are easily lost when generation are enslaved by the heathen culture they have foolishly befriended.

That is where I see much of the church today.  Having been captured by heathen culture several generations ago, many young adults, the future leaders of the church, are clueless as to the ancient paths.  Please don’t remind me that all you have to do is read the Bible and do it.  The problem is that many today have never seen the Bible exampled for them with lives lived with obedience, worship, and humility.  Having been raised in church-going homes (read “Christian”) yet polluted by divorce, hypocritical living, and abuse young families that have never witnessed the old paths are clueless as to where to begin.

Preaching in today’s church consists mostly of more knowledge, which puffs up, and simple one-two-three’s designed to fix life without really changing.  Instead of instruction about the old paths, many churches are trying to find safe passage through the same heathen ideals they have adopted.

Sounds like I’m ranting and raving?  I’m not.  I’m just observing the new challenges for the Church that I see ahead.  Many people who attend church are the average age of late thirties to early forties and have children in elementary school.  Most would say they are from Christian homes yet most have experienced divorce and family dysfunction to the point where they do not function well in marriage or parenting.  Further, they are capable of seeing everyone else’s issues other than their own.  Another way to say it is that they have adopted the role of the victim.

They know the simple instructions of husbands love your wife and wives respect your husbands but do not know the path to that goal.  Simply telling them to do the Word does not work.  Many are blinded by never having seen healthy families in their past.  So what is “square one” for these?  How does the church get back to teaching civility and simplicity that lead to healthy lives?  This, I believe, is the church’s challenge over the next decade.

The great need in communities today is for churches that look, act, and live like the Bible.  Churches that  can do more than describe what life should look like and fabricate Sunday services that are no more than candy for the soul.  Call them churches of healing, cities of refuge or anything else you like, just do more than write a vision statement, create core values and design a website.

It will take a major shift in thinking and a deep desire for change to do more than the status quo.  After all, to hide away in nice buildings behind good programs might feel like fulfilling the Great Commission but it can also look too much like whitewashed tombs filled with powerless religion.  Remember, it’s not just about finding the ancient path but having the willingness to walk on it that makes the difference.



{ 0 comments }