Romans 2:17-3:8 – Part 2

Romans 2:24. “As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’” (The previous post provides the needed foundation for this one, please read it first.)

The results of people claiming to know God and yet living apart from God are devastating. As the Apostle Paul states here the name of God is then blasphemed.  Looking through the Old Testament we can easily see how the Gentiles would often be persuaded that God’s own people did not follow Yahweh.  So why should they in turn have faith in Him?

I believe there is a powerful lesson here for the church. I have had many experiences where people will tell me that they like Jesus just fine but cannot stand the church.  Many people who say this are using their dislike for the church as a smokescreen.  In reality many have not and do not want to come to grips with the teachings of Jesus and the reality of their own spiritual failings.  But for others, “the church” has become a huge stumbling block that has kept them from Jesus.

Since the word church means so many different things to so many different people let me break this down into a few categories to make it easier to talk about:

Big Picture:

  • the Universal Church: all true believers in Jesus all over the world, the bride of Christ*
  • the false church: people who think or claim they are part of the Universal church but are not

Local Picture:

  • Beautiful: churches that are made up primarily of true believers who are following Jesus and being a light to the people around them.
  • False: churches that are made up primarily of unbelievers (false teaching and sinful living abound)
  • Worldly: churches with mostly believers in Jesus but who have their hearts set on things of the world

These last two categories of local churches hinder people from coming to know Jesus as Savior and Lord.  We must take care both on a communal and personal level that we live in a way that causes people to “praise our Father in heaven.”  Jesus gave us this standard for conduct and purpose, and we must consistently evaluate our lives in relation to this.

It is interesting to note that the Apostle Paul uses the singular Greek word for “you” in Romans 2:17-24.  So the individual Jew was instructed not to just look at the whole community but to examine his own life. For our application, it is not enough to say, “Oh the church does this or that, isn’t that bad!?.”  No, each person who claims to be a follower of Jesus must on a regular basis look inwardly and evaluate whether he/she is giving light to others to see Jesus or hindering others from seeing the Light.

*  Many people have problems with the church because they do not realize a couple of things:

  1. If you are a true believer you are part of the church, you cannot say that you don’t want to be a part of it because you already are.  The question is whether you will be a good participant by being actively involved and committed in a local church or be willfully disobedient to God and try to do a lone ranger thing, or do the church hopper thing, or do the, “I’ll participate when I feel like it thing”.
  2. For someone to say that they love Jesus but can’t stand the church is like someone saying to me that he wants to be my best friend but then says all sorts of terrible things about my wife.  After picking him up off the floor, I would gently explain that it does not work like that, since my wife and I are now one flesh, to trash my wife is to trash me .  Be careful what you say about the true bride of Christ, she has a very protective Man.  Now as part of the true bride of Christ I do believe it is perfectly fine to do the following:
  • to distinguish ourselves from the false church who says she is the Bride of Christ when she is not.  Primarily this distinguishing should happen by conduct and when necessary by word.
  • to correct ourselves by calling ourselves out when we are doing things we should not, or when we have a terrible attitude.  When symbolically our make up is whack, or when we are wearing an ugly dress, we need to repent and get back on track.  We want to bring honor to the Bridegroom Jesus.  He plays a huge role in the beautification of His church, and for this we should be very thankful (Ephesians 5:25-27).

What is your perspective of church?  Does your view line up with the New Testament teaching on the subject or has your understanding been made cloudy by a lack of studying the subject and poor models?