Monday, November 21, 2005

Ichabod - Has the Glory Departed?
(See 1 Samuel 4)

While in the throes of childbirth (and death) Eli's daughter-in-law named her son Ichabod, and stated that the glory had departed Israel. One has to ask the question of the Church today: Where has God’s glory gone? There are numerous reasons to ask the question. I'll note just a few.

1. The church has lost its voice as a moral force. At one time the society looked to the church for answers to tough moral and ethical questions. Moral leadership was expected from the Church. Today, between sexual and financial scandals and political folly, the church is considered a joke.
2. The Church has Abdicated for the sake of “getting along.” The Church today, instead of shining like stars in a crooked and depraved generation (Phil. 2:15), wants to blend in. It was noted in 1 Samuel 4 that the forces of Israel ran away from the Philistines. Today the Church is running - but not away. The Church is running toward the world. The world has irreverence; so can the Church. The world commits sexual sins without remorse; so our children should be allowed to shack up, too. The world is entertained by filth; so should we. The world has loud, usually mediocre music; well, the Church should, too. The world thinks it’s all right to cheat; the Church should keep up. The world allows its children to dress like tramps; so should we. The list goes on. We are supposed to be different. The church today is as different as a chameleon, blending into the background – no matter what the background is like.
3. The church can be its own worst enemy. Church splits; squabbles; trials; general buffoonery. They’re all expected of the Church today. Nobody is surprised when a pastor is put out because of non-theological issues. Nobody is shocked when eschatological differences explode denominations and fellowships. And I’m not even yet including the alleged churches of the left whose social agenda includes approval for abortion, homosexual practice and religion without God.

But, there is one key Biblical Truth to remember:
The church is still God’s remnant. God has promised that he will always keep a remnant. Elijah thought the church was a goner when he whined to God that he was the only follower left – and now the enemy was trying to kill him! God responded by telling Elijah, “I reserve seven thousand in Israel-all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.” Gently, God fed and sheltered Elijah – and sent him off into retirement. The church does not depend upon Elijah’s efforts – or mine. God is in control and He has promised that He will always have a remnant. The church may change what it looks like, but it is not going away. Paul wrote, in Eph. 1:17-23:

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

It’s not our church. He will maintain it. We have only to be faithful and obedient – and recognize Christ’s Church as the Holy Assembly of God’s chosen people; His bride.