When you think of the LDS Church, what are the pictures that come to your mind?
Gleaming white temples that stand starkly on the high ridges . . . church steeples throughout the neighborhoods . . . Sunday dress . . . Nice families . . . Conservative morality . . . KJV Bibles . . . Sabbath hymns . . . a nonpaid, temporary bishop . . . and a central pulpit.
When you think of Berean Baptist Church in Ammon, Idaho, what pictures come to your mind?
A gleaming white steeple . . . Sunday dress . . . Nice families . . . Conservative morality . . . Some carrying KJV Bibles . . . Sabbath hymns . . . a paid, permanent bishop . . . and a central pulpit.
In my mail, yesterday, I received the Ohio Bible Fellowship newsletter, entitled the “Visitor”. My friend, Chris Anderson, wrote a short article in the newsletter, “The Church’s Self-Identity”. He asks some provocative questions:
How do you, your church leaders, and your fellow members view your local church? Is it the good church in town? The conservative music church? The uncompromising church? The serious church? The dressy church? The friendly church? The everything-runs-like-clockwork church? The our-children-are perfect church?
Chiefly, what is it that your Church ought to be known for?
Here it is. Chris slams the coffin lid shut on self-righteous moralism!
We’re a congregation of sinners in need of God’s grace. We’re the we’re-a-mess-and-we-need-Jesus church.
This is the message, my friends, that will turn churches in the I-15 Corridor upside down. In his article, Chris goes on to give eight explosive reasons why.
And let me join Chris and share this. I am just a struggling sinner growing in grace. A gleaming white steeple with a cross on top reminds me of my deplorable sin nature, my gracious redemption, and how it is about me humbly exalting God and not God exalting me. The Sunday dress reminds me every week of my previous filthy rags and the new spotless dress given to me unmerited. No way did I deserve it. My marriage to my wife reminds me of God’s love for me. When I am so unlovable – stubbornly selfish or lustfully idolatrous or broken down in prideful despair – the unconditional loving God loves me through my wife. My KJV Bible reminds me every day of mankind’s desperate wickedness (we are all together in the mess) and God being the only Hero and Savior. My Sabbath hymns remind me of my helplessness and sovereign gospel grace and the omnipotent, omniscient, all-loving God. As a bishop who leads the family of God in worship every week, I am reminded of the fact that I stand before them all as the chief of sinners. And the central pulpit reminds me that my opinions and testimonies derived from my own heart carry no authority, no power, and no eternal impact for true life and godliness.
I could go on and on.
So here in the prosperous, conservative, moral I-15 Corridor, what is your Church known for?
Good, religious/spiritual, hard-working people?
I pray to God-Almighty that this would not be the chief, consuming smell of B.B.C. Please God help us. Turn our church worldviews upside down with Your sweeping truth and gracious work of deliverance.
We grow only in Your grace alone, Loving and Majestic Heavenly God. Save us today. For we are a mess in Ammon, Idaho.