God's Creatures Ministry
When Is a Church Not a Church?
A Sermon Delivered at the
13 April 2008
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
The true meaning of "church" is a congregation of faithful believers and followers of Jesus Christ and His teachings.
So, when is a church not a church? When the "Christians" in the church are not really Christians.
We need to remember that simply believing that Jesus Christ is Lord is not enough to make a person a Christian.
A Christian must be a follower of Jesus Christ and His teachings, just as James explains to us in James 2:18-20.
To go along with the ways of the world with all its corruption, pain, and suffering, and even bring such things into the church and try to justify them, is saying that they are not really a church, but rather some kind of social club.
And all too often, churches like these make truly compassionate people feel very uncomfortable and even rejected.
This is when a church proves that it is not a church, for they are living a lie, and not loving their neighbors (all their neighbors) as themselves (Leviticus 19:18).
What are we who are compassionate to do when we find ourselves in such a situation?
Are we to sit there quietly and say and do nothing?
Are we to leave and go somewhere else?
Or, are we to speak out?
Some people are concerned that if they do speak out they will cause more tension by seeming to be "holier than Thou" or spiritually superior.
So what do we do?
We do as Jesus did.
When it came to talking to the average person, Jesus spoke lovingly and encouragingly to try to explain to them the will of God for their lives, as opposed to the ways they may have been taught, or the way they were living.
He was trying to love them into the kingdom.
The best example of this is the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus explained in step by step fashion how God expected us to live.
He told the people under what circumstances they would be blessed, as with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11).
Let's think about this in terms of the greatest series of atrocities that humans have perpetrated upon any other living beings, and about which the church, for the most part, has turned a blind eye.
If a person is poor in spirit, they have allowed the Holy Spirit to guide them, and have suppressed their own will and spirit; and for this they will be blessed with the kingdom of heaven.
And since nowhere in the Bible is cruelty to animals ever sanctioned, it is clearly God's will that animals be treated kindly.
When animals are tortured and killed for food and other human lusts, the sensitive people of this world mourn for them and abstain from contributing to such pain and suffering.
They are gentle and merciful, and hunger and thirst for the righteousness which has been withheld from these animals.
The people who are pure in heart are the peacemaking children of God who seek to end the corruption of this earth and bring it God's everlasting peace.
For these efforts they are usually persecuted by the very churches that claim to follow Jesus, but do not.
A truly loving and neighborly church would do as Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 8:13.
When sensitive and empathic people "stumble" over the hardness of heart they see expressed toward animals in the church, they don't want to be there; they want to leave.
And Paul is telling the insensitive people, if your insensitivity is causing others to leave the assembly of believers, then you should hide your insensitivity when they are in your presence.
In other words, don't do in church what you do at home, but how much better it would be if all believers were loving and compassionate to the whole of God's creation at all times.
When the people didn't listen to Him, Jesus never got angry. He just moved on to others who hopefully would listen, and he told His disciples to do the same, as in Matthew 10:14.
However, when it came to the leaders of the Temple, which is an example of our church leaders and pastors of today, Jesus took a different approach, because they should have known better.
The church of today is always looking to convert someone to Christianity, or to be born again; yet in the process, they harden the hearts of converts to not have any empathy for the suffering animals or those who care about them.
Listen to how Jesus addressed these types of religious leaders, as in Matthew 23:13 and 15.
There's nothing gentle about Jesus' words to these religious leaders. They are direct and to the point, and He is holding them responsible for misguiding the people.
When another religious leader, Nicodemus, came out to see Jesus about the kingdom of heaven, even if it was under the cover of darkness, Jesus explained things to him in a loving manner, for he was seeking the truth (John 3:1-12).
But when Nicodemus questioned what Jesus was telling him, Jesus gently chastised him with a question, verse 10:
This is the way we need to address the hypocrisy in the church today when it comes to their hardness of heart toward animals and those who care about them.
Jesus wasn't shy, and neither should we be.
The church needs to wake up, and history is telling us that it's not going to do it on its own.
It needs to be jolted into the reality of their actions and inactions.
They need to return to the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking Jesus of the Bible.
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God's Creatures Ministry is committed to spreading God's compassion to all He has made based on The Scriptures. Although we are a Christian Ministry, we encourage all to have their own animal welfare committee in their community. We extend our resources to those who would like to learn more or begin their own God's Creatures Ministry as an extension of us. God created us to have a vegetarian diet and commissioned us to protect His animals. Instead, we have exploited them for our entertainment, fashion, appetite and useless, torturous research. These creatures have the right to live as they were created to live. Because we live IN this world, but are not OF this world, we strive to bring God's mercy and justice to all. We live in God's Kingdom now where Jesus, The Sacrificial Lamb, The Prince of Peace, The Lion of Judah reigns. We look forward to that day when all of creation will be 'set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God' (Romans 8:21) where a little child will lead and guide God's creatures (see Isaiah 11:5-9).
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