15-5 Reaching Those Who Left Church
When we are first baptized, we can tend to view those who leave our community as simply hard to understand, but we may easily shrug it off. Yet surely we need to do more; to feel more for them. And to realize that we all leave, in that we can be lost in sin for minutes or hours at a time, having numbed our responsibilities to the Father and Son. And yet, we are in covenant relationship with Him. This means that we do not slip in and out of fellowship with Him according to our concentration upon Him or our spirituality. We likewise shouldnít call those who leave us Mr or Mrs. They are always our brother or sister. We are in a family bond with them. Even if the hand says " I am not of the body, it is not therefore not of the body" (1 Cor. 12:15 RV). These words were written in the context of some of the Corinthian brethren resigning from the ecclesia and joining the various temples of even synagogues in the town. But they couldnít really resign from a relationship with God; resign from the fact that their Lord bled to death for them.
One advantage of those who leave Gods ways is that as and when they return, they do so with a heightened sense of Gods grace. Davidís greatest insight into the promises was at the time he doubted them the most (Psalm 89). Those who have these crises know the love of God in the way that the prodigal son knew it far more than the son who stayed at home, living in obedience each day. The wrath of God and the love of God are related; they are brought together supremely in the cross. " For the wrath of God is the love of God, in the form in which only the man who has turned away from God and turned back to Him can experience it" (4). Knowing this, hearts that bleed, minds that perceive the tragedy of the future our brethren may miss, will search for the lost sheep until they find it. At least, that is the attitude we must have. Davidís eyes wept " because they keep not thy law" , and yet he grieved for those who do not keep Gods word (Ps. 119:136,158). In other words, he grieved for where their way of life would lead them, even though he saw that at times he behaved like them.
For The Cause Of Christ
A sensitive heart will constantly be looking to the Lord Jesus for inspiration. For its hard to maintain the intensities of which we have written. Consider how Jonathan suffered the same suffering as did David, in that Saul tried to kill him with a Javelin: " Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David. So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did eat no meat the second day of the month: for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame" (1 Sam. 20:33,34). Jonathan felt the shame of David, and grieved for him. David is set up in the record as a type of Jesus, and Jonathan as a type of those with whom Jesus has made a covenant after His defeat of sin on the cross [cp. the fight with Goliath].
We should feel His shame, feel the tragedy of the cross; that Israel slew their Saviour. The memory of His cross cannot be simply a religious ritual. The ecclesia in the time of Amos " chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David; That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. (Am. 6:5,6). They drunk wine and anointed their faces with oil- rejoicing in Gods blessings. They looked back to the heritage of their spiritual ancestors (David), and on a surface level appeared to follow them. They chanted the temple songs, and yet there was no grief within them for the affliction of Gods people. The archers were to surely grieve Joseph (Gen. 49:23), but they chose to ignore the terrible import of those prophecies of Messiahs suffering. There was the appearance of religion and worship, but no grief nor passion for the tragedy of Messiahs forthcoming death, no grieving for the tragedy of Gods people, who were about to be afflicted for their sins. And in this we must take our warning.
(4) Emil Brunner, Man In Revolt
(London: Lutterworth Press, 2002 ed.) p. 187.