More than once recently I have come across this quote from D.A. Carson (in his book The Cross and Christian Ministry).
At first I wasn’t inclined to post it. But something happened to me during the silent communion time this morning that changed that.
During the fourth movement of the communion we prayed through the flock. My pastoral role means I know more about everybody on the list than almost anyone else in the church. While I pray through parts of the flock every day, I don’t often pray through it in its entirety. As I worked my way quickly through the list it dawned on me how many issues I prayed for related to peacemaking in troubled relationships of all kinds. No surprise that Dr. Carson includes such things in his list of ways to destroy a church.
The ways of destroying the church are many and colorful. Raw factionalism will do it. Rank heresy will do it. Taking your eyes off the cross and letting other, more peripheral matters dominate the agenda will do it-admittedly more slowly than frank heresy, but just as effectively over the long haul. Building the church with superficial ‘conversions’ and wonderful programs that rarely bring people into a deepening knowledge of the living God will do it. Entertaining people to death but never fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love will build an assembling of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the living God. Gossip, prayerlessness, bitterness, sustained biblical illiteracy, self-promotion, materialism-all of these things, and many more, can destroy a church. And to do so is dangerous: ‘If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple (1 Cor. 3:17).” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
During this holiday season, when relationships can be strained by expectations and disappointments galore, may we be a peacemaking people in our homes and in our church that the enemy not have his way in destroying either.