Thursday, February 15, 2007

Follow the Rules!


We come across rules all of the time. Do this or don't do that. It's an inescapable fact of life.

And I think rules are fine for a local church.

Yes, I believe that church services should be places where seeking sinners find acceptance; however, I believe that local congregations should have high expectations for Christians.

I believe we often are reticent of making demands of our believers for fear that we will have folks leave us. However, how can we "go and make disciples" if we discipline them with nothing?

John Wesley had rules to be a member of his Methodist societies. If you didn't keep your vows then you were out. Think about this passage from his Journal for June 16, 1757:

"In the evening I preached at Sunderland. I then met the society and told them plainly that none could stay with us unless he would part with all sin; particularly, robbing the King, selling or buying run goods, which I could no more suffer than robbing on the highway. This I enforced on every member the next day. A few would not promise to refrain, so these I was forced to cut off. About two hundred and fifty were of a better mind."

It seems rather simple to me; join a Methodist society and vow and say "no" to sin. Refuse to give up sin and get kicked out of the voluntary group. Sounds reasonable. However, some today may find Wesley's action draconian in today's delight of slim demands or low expectation of Christian participation or behavior. However, I think he got it right. If a person voluntarily joins a group then he has to follow the rules.

Several years ago I went to see a karate instructor because I wanted to join his class. He made an insightful comment: They didn't seek me out, I sought them out. The implication was clear; there were rules and expectations that I had to follow. I understood. If I wanted to put on a gi and be a member then I had to be one of the larger unified group.

Why should a local congregation be any less?