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The Church Is A Motley Crew
God Uses Weak Things To Confound The Mighty
by Ken Raggio
The Motley Crew
In Old France, street bums were often seen wearing ragged clothes that were pieced together from scraps of all kinds and colors. The citizens began to identify such apparel with the term "motley." A motley coat was akin to the patchwork quilt we all have seen.
The Church is a "motley" crew. From every segment of society, the patchwork Church has been brought together by the very hand of God.
Wise and unwise, intelligent and not so intelligent, handsome and ugly, short and tall, skinny and fat.
But by the Blood of Jesus, by water baptism in His name, and by the baptism of His Holy Ghost, we are born into one glorious body.
Jesus was a builder of men.
He turned fishermen into soul-searchers. Reeds into rocks. Sauls into Pauls. The Church can turn derelicts into saints, rebels into disciples, failures into role models, and bartenders into Sunday School teachers.
Reconciliation and restoration were obsessions with Him.
Whether it was recreating eyes for the blind, new fingers for the lepers, or raising someone from the dead, Jesus was a healer. He forgave an adulterous woman, a dishonest tax-collector, and a palsied cripple. Today, the Church dwells in the midst of a world that is even more in need of that kind of reconciliation and restoration.
Nobody in our day can deliver the alcoholic or the drug addict like the Church. No one can heal the terminally ill like the Church. There are no true alternatives for our world like the ministry of the Church. We can do all Jesus did. He declared that our works would exceed His. The Church by Jesus' own prophecy, will inspire more conversions, save more souls, heal more sicknesses, produce more worship of God, and attract more attention to the Kingdom than ever before.
Jesus said, "The Son of Man can do nothing of Himself. It is the Father that worketh in me." The Church concurs: "We can do nothing - God does it all through us!" The world is increasingly critical of the Church, but how decrepit the world would be without the Church!
What would the world be like without Jesus?
Without the influence of Jesus Christ, His Word and His Church in our society, marriages would be replaced by animalistic relationships, families would disintegrate into barnyard menageries, morality would lose its right-and-wrong-ness and the resulting chaos would destroy our sanity, our health, and even our society.
As God promised Abraham that He would "Bless them that bless you, and curse them that curse you," the modern world has been blessed by the presence of the Church, although it scarcely recognizes that powerful fact.
Oh, that the influence of the Church would be felt in the uttermost regions: in our public schools, in the work place, in the colleges and universities, in the next-door neighbor's house. No movie star, no singing celebrity, and no world figure will ever have the positive impact on our society that Jesus Christ has already made with His Church. The Church is a reservoir of hope. It is the channel of blessing from the throne of God. It is the manifestation of timeless wisdom, endless love, and eternal life.
The Church is the only real homogenization of law and grace, strictness and leniency, restriction and freedom, correction and approval. Only in the Church can one find a proper balance of rebuke and forgiveness.
The great might of the Church is God's might, certainly not men's.
The 22nd chapter of II Samuel tells about the crew of men who joined with David while he was still a fugitive from Saul's wrath. It is a fascinating account.
and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it,
they went down thither to him.
And every one that was in distress,
and every one that was in debt,
and every one that was discontented,
gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them:
and there were with him about four hundred men."
David's Mighty Men were "in distress," "in debt," and "discontented." What a motley crew! Four hundred men who were the off-scouring of Israel. Yet God used them under David's leadership to bring the nation of Israel into its GREATEST DAY!
2 Samuel 23:8-10 records,
The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains;
the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear
against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time.
And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite,
one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines
that were there gathered together to battle,
and the men of Israel were gone away:
He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary,
and his hand clave unto the sword:
and the LORD wrought a great victory that day;
and the people returned after him only to spoil."
In all, there were three men who were responsible for killing HUNDREDS of enemy soldiers. Three more men, followed close behind them for courage in battle, and another thirty-one men were given Hall of Fame status. Yet these were COMMON men of little repute.
They are the SAME KIND Jesus selected to be Apostles: fishermen, tax collectors, ignorant and unlearned men. God uses the foolish things of earth to confound the wise, the weak things to confound the strong, and things that are NOT, to confound things that ARE!
The Church is Jesus' body walking the earth.
It is here to be all He was, and to do all He did in His earlier body. The Church is the agency through which men can be reconciled to God - a visible contact with the invisible Father, a "branch office" of the Throne. God inhabits His Church by His Spirit. A true Church represents God to the world.
When outsiders gaze upon the Church, their first impression should replicate the reactions of Jesus' ancient observers. They said, "Never a man spake as this man," so we should hear, "no Church speaks as this Church." "He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil," so our record should be that, "the Church goes about doing good, and healing all that are oppressed of the devil."
The Church is full of His life.
We need to envision the Church as everything He was. He was a man with a marvelous message. The message was peculiar, radically different from what the crowds were used to, and there was no apology in His demands for self-denial. Jesus categorically expected all who followed Him to subscribe to His rule, and only shook His head and walked on when they balked at the requirement. His faithful followers were poignantly rebuked for such things as their unbelief and their inability to pray for a solid hour.
Yet, He was not hard. He was more longsuffering than the contemporary priests. He at times shoved the law aside in order to administer grace. In many ways, He was His own dispensation of time, sandwiched between the Old Testament and the New.
A lesson in Biology - Homogeneous vs. Heterogeneous life forms
We have unity in spite of our incompatibilities. The organism of the Church can be illustrated in a simple Biology lesson: There are two basic life forms: heterogeneous organisms and homogeneous organisms.
A homogeneous body is one that reproduces an IDENTICAL offspring. Only very basic life forms, such as the amoeba are homogeneous. Every offspring of a homogeneous organism is identical in structure to its parent.
On the other hand, a heterogeneous body is a multiple organism, structured with hundreds or thousands of different interdependent organisms. Its offspring will never be exactly identical, because there is a mathematical improbability that the genetic structure could ever be duplicated, because it is so complex. For this cause, a blue-eyed offspring may be born of brown-eyed parents. And "identical" twins are not truly identical - certainly not homogeneous.
The Motley Crew
The Church can be identified, in different ways, as both a heterogeneous body, and a homogeneous body. Since every true Christian must be born of the Spirit, we are homogeneous in the spiritual sense. This indicates that in the spiritual dimension, we must all be identical, because we have the same mind - the mind of Jesus.
In the other dimension, the dimension of the flesh, the Church is heterogeneous, or in another sense - a motley crew. We have a homogeneous Spirit in a heterogeneous (flesh) body. A "treasure in earthen vessels." The Spirit in us is always the same, but since we are heterogeneous, our physical reaction to the impact of the Spirit is often varied. Just as each child in a family has a different appearance, many of us who believe essentially the same manifest our convictions in different ways. That is why we often see inconsistencies in the Church.
We must persist even when others are radically different.
Look at how differently Cain and Able offered an offering to God. Notice how Esau thought so little of his birthright, while Jacob would beg, steal or borrow for it. And contrast King Saul's reckless handling of the kingship with King David's fearful respect for the same. These are all illustrations of the heterogeneous environment in which the will of God has to be done. No wonder that from preacher to preacher, and from congregation to congregation, so many differences show up. And yet, God continues to dwell with men, through His Church. Even when preachers fail, and congregations disband, God continues to work among the remainder of us, because the integrity of the Church was never dependent upon men's performances, but on God's presence!
The Church is like a catalyst.
As a catalyst in a chemical reaction, the Church does not form the relationship between men and God, but it does methodically provoke it. For that end, God will always have a Church, and will continue to reconcile and restore men unto Himself.
Never be deceived by those who constantly find fault with the TRUE Church. As long as the Church is made of mortal men, it is always going to have the appearance of a motley crew. But make no mistake about it, God is in His Church, and when all the brilliant geniuses of the world have made their final arguments against God, the Church will prevail and the unbelievers will be lost. Let the weak say, "I am strong!" God is our strength.
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