What Threatens to Smother the Church?

There’s one more quote from Still’s The Work of the Pastor (published first in 1984) that I want to highlight before I set this book down for now.  (Note: the Lt. Col. Thomson whom Still mentions below was a sort of Barnabas to churches behind the Iron Curtain in the 20th Century).  Though he writes this for pastors, it is applicable for others in the church as well.

“A great many of us are far busier propping up our particular brand of democracy and social service than building the church of Jesus Christ against which even the gates of hell shall not prevail, whether our democracy collapses or not.  The church is not called to subsidize the state any more than she is called to work against it; she has to be as neutral to it as loyal citizens can be.  She is called to gather and build the church of Jesus Christ under any system whatsoever.  Her members are to submit to the powers that be, as far as this does not conflict with the individual conscience, and they are to let the state do as it will.  If the state forbids Christians, loyal Christians, to be Christians, she can only kill the body, she cannot kill the soul.  What Paul and Peter are saying in Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2 is that we are to submit to any regime we happen to be under – submit to it, not sponsor, or oppose it.”

“We are supposed to believe that there are no conditions on earth in which the Christian church cannot survive, for God will always see to it that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church that is to be.  That is certainly true behind the Iron Curtain.  When Lt. Col. Thomson wanted the richest Christian fellowships he could find, he went for them to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Russia.  He told us of a young man who was converted in the Red Army.  …Do not think that the church is smothered in these countries.  She is more likely to be smothered by wealth, ease, and complacency.”

These paragraphs are found on pages 65-66 of The Work of the Pastor.

shane lems

sunnyside, wa

2 thoughts on “What Threatens to Smother the Church?”

  1. Whoa, con-vic-ting!

    Shane, do you do anything else but read? I don’t know how you find the time (or have the budget) for all these books. But I am grateful for the sharing of your thoughts!

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    1. Hey Jim – thanks for the note. Most of the books I write about here are simply things I’ve read in my studies (sermon prep, discipleship meetings, Sunday School, Bible study, etc.). I get a small stipend each year for books, and I’ve learned how to make it stretch. Also, I get a few cents from different bookstores when people click the book links on this blog (as does Andrew).

      Glad you appreciate the posts!

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