Monday, May 14, 2012

Cracked Cisterns

After a long spell of not writing down my reflections, partially because I had little time to reflect and have been swept into a life of bustle and activity, I now pause to write and tackle some issues that I am thinking about as it relates to the state of Christianity today.

I begin by recalling my early experience when I was persuaded about the 'Sabbath truth' and sharing with friends who were otherwise minded. At that time I was on job at a public library, and pulled for encyclopedias to convince my audience that what I was telling them was not being made up by me or even the denomination that I was apart of at that time. I was delighted at that time that the encyclopedia did not disappoint and was able to show them 'who changed the Sabbath'. One of my friends begged me to stop, and so I did.

Years later, the landscape of my entire worldview of Christianity has shifted. It is not just the Sabbath that has been changed, but a whole lot of 'traditions of men' have been inserted and a whole lot of  the practices of the early apostles have been abandoned. I have even recognised that seventh-day Sabbath-keeping churches have also been guilty of the same issues as Sunday Christians.

Think for a moment with me. If the logic for observing the seventh-day Sabbath is because it was a custom of Jesus, then why just observe one such custom and ignore the others? Why do we attend 'church services' instead of 'synagogue services'? Why not keep Sabbath services on the mountain, by the beach, by a lake or by a river, in people's homes or school? Why create a specific building to formally minister to the needs of people?

On the matter of the feasts of the LORD beside the Seventh-day the Sabbath, there are also problems. Most denominations I know observe Communion and justify the practice by arguing that Jesus commanded its observance. Unfortunately, as practiced by denominations, it reflects nothing like what Jesus actually practiced and instituted to the early church or Christians. First, most denominations celebrate the custom as often as seeming suitable to them. In addition, the communion no longer becomes a supper, as it is usually celebrated in the day. Further, it is celebrated without a meal, so that Christians only eat the bread and wine. No bitter herbs, no dip. Further, some Christians celebrate the supper with leavened bread, biscuits or cakes. Jesus and his disciples ate unleavened bread (bread without yeast). So whether or not Christians say they are following Jesus command to celebrate the Lord's supper, it is yet to be established that they are in fact doing so, as the time has been changed both in terms of time of day and even the season. Also the emblems have been changed. These have been done without biblical authority, but man's theological extraction and development. It is therefore correct when they do not use the term - the LORD's supper, but instead use the term communion. For it is indeed a communion meal in honour of the LORD, but not the LORD's. As Jesus says ""Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46 NIV).

Were Christians today doing what the LORD command, the operation of the church today would be different. However the corruption or influence of the world has creeped in, and traditions of men have usurped the commandments of God. I don't have all the answers and have just raised the questions. My intention is not though to raise doubt about the Church or Christianity, but more so to cause reflection about the state of Christianity today. We celebrate pagan festivals while claiming that the festivals of the Bible have been nailed to the cross. Even those festivals of the Bible that we celebrate, we choose how we feel that they should be celebrated and command others to do the same. Without authority we have established broken cisterns.

"For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me--the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all! (Jeremiah 2:13, New Living Translation, 2007)
So cracked we are, that the Holy Spirit (the living water) which should be poured in us, is flowing through our cracked vessels and cannot be fully entertained in our formal church services. He flows through our cracks and we end up with little power and little results in our ministries (that is if he flows or is poured in any at all). In fact, Jesus tells us that cracked vessels cannot be used, as they would be ruined (See the parable in Matthew 9:17). We cannot receive the outpouring of the Spirit, if our vessels are cracked, because we are unable to keep him in us. So that's why we feel alive at some times, and dead at other times. That's also why we can do God's work this minute, and the Devil's work the next. Cause we ain't full. Vessels that are cracked are never full.

I therefore sit on the fence, for after 2 decades of church involvement, I find that the work that I do is not all about serving the LORD, but carrying out denominational duties and the traditions of men. But the one who I really want to serve is the LORD. May we all have that wish and desire, and examine ourselves to see if we are indeed in the faith (2 Corinthians 13: 5).

God bless you.