Autonomy and the Church

Here's another touchy subject.
How much control should a church exercise over it members?

Matthew 23:1-5 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2) saying, The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses seat : 3) All therefore whatsoever they bid you to observe, that observe and do: but do not ye after their works: for they say and do not. 4) For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5) but all their works they do to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, etc. etc....

For the sake of argument, when a church starts making people jump through hoops to get baptized, then they are rivaling what the Pharisees did. Paul or John never said wait, before you get baptized you need to attend this class or go to this retreat or you need to fill out this questionnaire so we can determine if you've done an adequate self-examination so we know your going to really mean what your about to do before you get baptized.

They didn't offer them a baptismal certificate with pictures and a statement from the church so they had something to prove they were baptized either.

God is the only one we have to answer to in our spiritual walk. While it is nice to be able to offer mentoring or have another Christian help a new convert in their spiritual growth. Once a person has sincerely been born again, God will keep them under His wing and see that the person gets more learned or convicted. If a person is going to stray, they will do it regardless how much tutoring, how much mentoring or how much lecturing they receive from another Christian.

Luke warm Christians are not a threat to the devil as the devil is already diluting the truth in their lives to try to draw them away from their first spiritual love. Too often we twist peoples arms to become a Christian when they aren't ready and that just creates improper attitudes and stagnated growth. When a person comes to Christ out of great need, and shows a passion for being converted, that is the time to take them straight from the fire into the water.

Since baptism is not a requirement to enter into the kingdom of God, it is only a recommended act, and so it was that Jesus set the example for us. It was because we can receive a greater portion of the Holy Ghost if we will be obedient to His calling.

I strongly believe that as our obedience, which culminates in greater faith, is brought through each step of its maturity, so that the Holy Spirit is able to work in a more abundant way. Christ even proved that when He was in Nazareth and trying to do miracles amongst His own family.

Now here's another issue. It's good to be able to be concerned for a person's spiritual growth, but if It means trying to interfere with God's will for their lives, then you are wrong. If I as a Christian feel led to tell a brother or sister in Christ about another fellowship opportunity, and you voice an opinion that they should continue to go to the fellowship they have joined, but yet are not attending, than you are interfering in God's will.
We can't burden others to come to our worship meetings under the guise of wanting to keep an eye on their progress.

We are all a part of the body of Christ where there's freedom in Him. He knows our hearts, He knows what's best for us, He knows everything about us. So if He decides to send a messenger to someone for a specific reason to guide them to a place where they may feel more comfortable or cared for or any other reason unknown to us, what business is it of ours? We just need to be happy for them and pray for them like we ought to be doing anyways!

October 17th, 2009 - 10 rev.