"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


            The mating call of the post-pubescent homo sapiens is a loud bellowing of the phrase, "Let's PARTY!" But, despite the activities at most colleges and universities, that's not the kind of partying we're born to do.
            It all began long, long ago in a kingdom far, far away. No, this has nothing to do with Star Wars, although, those characters did plenty of partying—and fighting, and loving, and ... well, they were just like us, even if they were fictional. The characters I'm talking about weren't born. God Himself fashioned them as the jewel of His creation. They were so special because He made them to resemble Himself in several key ways. One of those resemblances was their autonomy, or their ability to make their own decisions.
            If you tuned in because of this piece's title, fear not. I haven't abandoned the subject of parties. In fact, our first parents attended one hummm-dinger of a party, where their friendly neighborhood talking serpent offered them a sample of forbidden fruit. Based on that con-snake's sure fire promise, our gullible great-great-great ... grand parents bought the idea that God didn't really say, "Thou shalt not ..." And in buying the lie, they "bought the farm" so-to-speak.
            Well, a good time was had by both—until they heard their Papa God walking through the garden. Apparently the serpent's reasoning rang hollow as God drew closer, so the newlyweds tried to hide. Fat lot of good that did!
            Then the excuses started: "She said!" "It said!" "It's not my fault, God. You gave her to me." Of course, that cop-out blamed God for their sin, which didn't go over well with the Almighty.
            That wild party at Adam an' Eve's place began another kind of party—the kind of party that you join, the kind of part that you commit to. Trouble with the party they joined is it was the wrong one. They chose to follow the slick, slithery serpent, rather than their Father God.
            And we've been making wrong "joining" choices ever since. Whenever we choose to disobey God, we, like Adam and Eve, choose to join the Infernal Brotherhood of the Enemy of Our Souls(IBEOS). And we get the exclusive right to join Lucifer and his cronies for perdition. That is one party you don't want to join; you know what it's like when the boss hates you ... think, an eternity of that.
            The Bible's New Testament says a lot about factions within God's church, and in only one verse does it seem to favor the idea.
For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.
            Does that mean factions(sects, partisanship) can be a good thing? Hardly! Who wants to show by their factitious behavior that they aren't approved?
And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.
(Matthew 12:25 NASB)
            I'm not harping on the differences of opinion inevitable in any group of people. For any group to agree unanimously is unnatural ... unless either God's Holy Spirit influences them, or some of them are intimidated by others, in which case the agreement isn't real.
            Jesus great desire was to unify His "sheep," even before they became His sheep.
"I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.
(John 10:16 NASB)
The way that "party spirit" had taken over His creation must have grieved Him. Even as He walked this earth He knew humanity better than we know ourselves. Later, as He prayed for His church, He begged the Father to make us one.
"I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.
(John 17:20-23 NASB)
            Yet, from the very outset, the church divided itself into factions: The Circumcision Party, The Uncircumcision Party, The Jews, The Greeks. And then as now, whenever anyone had a difference of opinion they gathered followers around themselves. Of course, the instigator became the new sect's Grand High Muckity-muck; everyone wants to become a big spoke in some little wheel.
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ." Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other.
(1 Corinthians 1:10-16 NASB)
As such agreement is impossible in the flesh, they—and we—must rely on that same Jesus Christ's indwelling Spirit to pull it off.
            Christ's Apostle to the Gentiles exhorted the Corinthian church further:
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.
(1 Corinthians 3:1-5 NASB)
For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.
(1 Corinthians 11:18-19 NASB)
            Apparently the Corinthian church wasn't alone in their proclivity for forming fractionizing factions(say that ten times fast):
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
(Romans 16:17-18 NASB)
            And when he wrote to the Galatian church the Apostle Paul "quit preachin' and started t' meddlin'."
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21 NASB)
Please note how disputes, dissensions, factions and envying—behaviors tolerated by much of today's church—ranked as high on the no-no list as the more obvious sexual and life style infractions.
            I personally find taking sides quite hard to avoid, and I know better. Is it any wonder that people who center their lives around always being right can't see their own disobedience? Those of us who God has convicted on the issue must love those whom He hasn't, just as Jesus loves them and gave His life for them. When someone expects us to join their "party," we must lovingly tell them "No thanks!" and why.

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