“Do your best to walk as God as God wants you to walk.” Rabbi Steve Gutow/Moses Maimonides prayer for Rev Michael Curry at ordination
The ordination of Bishop Michael Curry as the presiding Bishop of the Episcopal church was held recently at the Washington cathedral attended by 150 or so Bishops in an inclusive but increasingly far left denomination. Despite the cry for others to follow their progressive paths of universalism or face demise, the church herself is on a steep decline with attendance now reaching the 600k mark, a far cry from a few million a few decades ago.
The Episcopal church and the Metropolitan Community Church has been a voice for justice in the church eg in their support of Gay rights. But the church is not only about justice, but about righteousness which can only be built on that rock, Jesus Christ. Our notion of justice is also marred by a self centeredness. We generally avoid talking about the killing of babies in abortion nor the harsh penalties in the name of religion in many countries. No liberal would talked of the thousands of gays hanged or deaths to christian converts in the Middle East in the name of religious faith.
The European churches, the Episcopal church and her fellow liberal Uniting churches of Christ are the main players of the World Council of Churches formed in 1948. It was an attempt by the increasing western liberal movements from the 60s to propagate their theology to the emerging nations.
Instead of a liberal revival, the opposite happened with an evangelical revival resulting in equivalenly right wing christian groups such as the National Association of Evangelicals, Vineyard, New Apostolic Reformation, G12 of South America, Christian Growth International of South Korea and GAFCON of the global south, and massive independent mega churches including the fellowship of the Assemblies of God.
Ironically, Singapore’s own NCC was a member of CCA, part of the WCC, until the Government strong and somewhat radical action against the followers of liberation theology doing their social justice work. The reach of the WCC becomes mute overtaken by the massive media broadcast such as the Trinity Broadcasting Network of Daystar and the mega churches whose attendances were less than a hundred in the 80s which grew into tens of thousands. We are reminded that the liberal Episcopal church started their massive numerical decline in the 80s.
There are many a good bishops who fall into the pitfall of the wanting to become god whose theology is centered on a self rightheousness achieved through love. It is our love that is emphasised, our love for God the creator, and our love for others. Our intellect and human logic becomes gods with theology legitimised by the World Council of Churches who has become increasingly humanistic and pagan, a reflection of the end times falling away
Ironically, when the Pharisees, the people of the law saw Jesus, they rejected Him. They were afraid they would worship the wrong god. True enough, some Christians have even generalised the God of Israel to include all the various pagan deities. But God is One and not the multiple pagan deities.
The gospel of many is redefined to be based on the law or trying to love others and loving God the creator. The law is bad news because we are sinners and unrighteousness. Our attempts fall short. The name of God becomes the distant God of creator instead of a personal God in Jesus Christ. They reject Jesus Christ.
In Isa 64:6, our self righteousness is like dirty rags, and smelly blood of woman’s menstrual fluid. We are reminded of the woman coming to Jesus with an issue of blood. This is the picture of the church whose righteousness is through the law or the love commandments. It is smelly.
The woman has spent all her money on doctors who even though did not heal her charged her for the treatment. When we reach a point of grace, when it is nothing of our own, then we freely receive without paying for it. Jesus has paid the price at calvary. If we try to pay the price ourselves, we will be conned by doctors and be in deeper strive. Some churches are thus, they have paid great sums of their own effort and theology to be alive, nice buildings, but the greater they try, the more sick the church became.
When the woman exchanged her small faith, with the faith of Jesus, then healing entered. When the church is not Christ centered it continues to bleed. When we bring the little we have and see Jesus, it is returned to use grace for our need. What the church need is a touch from God, and that touch comes when we touch Jesus. The bleeding may be in terms of numbers and in terms of morality and injustice. The woman received grace when it was no more about herself.
It is not that these churches dont preach about Jesus, they do but as a good teacher and a way to know God’s love but not the Saviour, nor God. Worship and prayer is towards a universal creator God. There is no feeding if it not based on Jesus body crucified and full of stripes, and the risen body. People leave because they are hungry despite having a community.
The greatest commandment to love God, is in the context, of loving the God of Israel beyond the shared human heritage as God the creator. And we are joined to Israel through Jesus Christ. The test of the greatest commandment of loving God is not to have other gods in a multi faith context of the bible.
How can there be a revival? Not to walk as God in organizations such as the World Council of Churches but to walk with God revealed as Christ the Saviour. The woman with the issue of blood became desperate and spent all her money trying to save herself when all she needed was Jesus and it would have cost her nothing.
The charismatic evangelical churches also begin to walk as god as some of their liberal and catholic counterparts with incredible power and financial wealth. Their word becomes the oracle from god and unchallenged leading to abuses as we see from yong yi cho, kong hee and Benny Hinn. They become little messiahs.
The churches are moving into a new era where it is about justice and righteousness which will bring about healing and revival to the desperate masses in a hurting world. It is a righteousness that can only be found in understanding the grace received in Jesus Christ. Out of this righteousness with God can we truly display God’s grace and be agents of justice, to right the wrongs and injustice sufferred by many without having the judgemental self righteous attitude of Love Singapore.