Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Orderly or 'Dead Asleep'?

I frequently lament that much of what passes for worship in church services, of what substitutes for prayer by believers, of what masquerades as preaching in our pulpits must be seriously devoid of whatever fueled the New Testament examples of those things.

I also frequently lament that all the ‘great ideas’ that come across my synapses get taken by others before I can broadcast them. To wit, I thought about a preaching series on the significance of the gospel long before David Platt ever preached it (see the Church at Brook Hills sermon archives). Now, if I preach what I originally intended, people might think that I took it from him. This is, I am painfully aware, a mini-lesson in humility, and how the body of Christ should work together when credit is not at issue.

But chalk up yet another pre-empting at the hands of no less a figure than J.I. Packer, who said this about power:

“First Corinthians 12-14 is a passage of Scripture which makes painful reading for thoughtful evangelical believers. … These chapters make painful reading because, whatever evils they confront in us, they do at least show us a local church in which the Holy Spirit was working in power. So reading the passage makes one painfully aware of the impoverishment, inertia, dryness and deadness of so many churches at the present time.

“If our only reaction to these chapters is to preen ourselves and feel glad because our churches are free from Corinthian disorders, we are fools indeed and ought to think again. I fear that many of our churches today are orderly because they are asleep. And in many cases I fear it is the sleep of death. It is no great thing, is it, to have perfect order in a cemetery?”

(J.I. Packer, Serving the People of God: The Collected Shorter Writings of J.I. Packer, Volume 2, Paternoster, 1988, p10.)

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