Personal Piety isn’t Enough: The Church is More Important Than Ever

The Water In Which We Are Drowning

With all of the hubaloo regarding the inauguration of Biden yesterday, I had intended to add my two cents to the overflowing coin bank of opinion on the recent 2020 elections. But due to unforeseen events, I am late to the party. That’s ok, my understanding is that if it’s mailed in it will be counted regardless of the posting date. Which remark probably indicates my political leanings, but be that as it may, this post is more about the Church than politics, although politics are the context in which I frame my thoughts.

whtie and brown cathedral

The next four years promises to be challenging from a political perspective to orthodox Christians, and I shall lay out some a priori assumptions that explains that assessment. 1) All forms of government are not created equally: there are forms of government that are more realistic about the nature of our world and that are designed in principal and practice to pursue righteousness (Proverbs 14:34). 2) The extremism of the Left (collectivism) is currently more dangerous than the extremism of the right (fascism), although that could change quickly. 3) The intolerant, censorious nature of Leftist policy is a danger to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. 4) The idolatry of Statism exhibited by Leftist government is threatened by bonds outside of the State, which has led to an assault on the family, on the nature of masculinity and femininity, and on the life of the unborn – to name a few. 5) The doctrines of the Left are embedded in our culture through institutions such as government via legislation, education via government schools, storytelling via entertainment, and control of information via Big Tech and traditional media.

Idolatry to the Left, Idolatry to the Right

As one of my friends recently pointed out, the last year has been a good one for exposing idolatry. In my part of the country and in my circles, the idolatry of the right involves a certain kind of nationalism. I think nationalism is good and something that will last for eternity: the leaves of the Tree of Life are for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:2). But even good things can become idols, and we can tell that they have become idols by the response of their worshipers when they start to slip and fall off their pedestal. There are those within Evangelicalism who have placed their trust in horses and in chariots (Psalm 20:7). There are those who have risked personal integrity, who have railed against the appointed rulers, who have lost sleep, who have denied reality, and in short acted like pagans because they were worshiping at the wrong altar.

But the Left is not short of idols. If I were to compare, I would say that the main difference between the Left and the Right is that the Right tends to elevate good things (patriotism, family, liberty) to the level of worship (which is a sin) , whereas the Left tends to worship that which is more intrinsically wicked. To love fornication is to love that which is twisted. To love death is to love that which is the opposite of the Lord of Life. From evolution to transgenderism, the gods of the Left are an abomination.

Personal Piety

In the midst of this, it should go without saying that personal piety is foundational. The individual who claims to know the God who is Holy and yet lives daily without evidence of holiness (or growth in holiness) is a problem. Salvation – the pardoning of sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ – comes to the individual. Then the salvation that is worked in by God must be worked out by the believer through the power of the indwelling Spirit. This is basic Christianity. In every age, the lack of personal piety rears its ugly head. In every age the Church can lose her saltiness because those who make up that blood bought Body of Christ are living in carnality.

The Church

But there is also something above and greater than the individual: the Church. While comprised of individuals whose personal piety determines her character, the church is greater than the sum of her parts. She competes in society – not on a personal level – but at an institutional level. She has righteous laws to compete with secular legislation. As the pillar and groundwork of Truth, she is the True Teacher of our race. Her Wisdom competes with secular dogma and philosophy. She tells the One True Story against secular fiction. The Revelation of God is expounded from Her pulpits. As such, the Church is always under attack because She embodies the Light of God in a dark world.

Christians CANNOT allow their aspirations to end with personal piety. It is the Church that must not fail. We may expect, particularly in progressive States, oppressive legislation and uncooperative legislatures. We should anticipate onerous regulations at our schools where we teach our children that God is our Creator and man is made in His image. We know that proponents of homosexuality and transgenderism and collectivism are marshaling their forces NOT against the main stream media and giant corporations, but against the Chosen of God who will not declared that Caesar is Lord, but that Christ is Lord.

And so we must attend. We must give. We must serve. We must worship together. If your attendance to your local assembly is sporadic, then sharpen it up. If you give your hard earned money to the very corporations that promote wickedness while withholding your money from the mission of God then change your financial habits. If you haven’t missed a football game but you have missed the worship of your Creator…well, that’s a problem. The best way you can stand against the secular wave is not via social media or activism or even voting, it is by faithfully attending church with your family. Get your kids in church!

But there’s one more thing. We can’t do all this with the attitude of the guy smoking a joint in the Capitol Rotunda. We can’t serve God while hating our fellow man. We can’t gripe and spew vile hatred against sinners and then bemoan that no one will listen to us when we proclaim the gospel. If we would be crucified with Christ, then we must forgive as Christ forgave. If we would bear the reproach of our Savior, we must also bear the compassion of our Savior. If gaining a soul means the plundering of our property, we should gladly lose our property so that others might gain their soul. Anything less is idolatry. And the world has enough of that without the Church adding to it.

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