Sundries: Sex, memory, and a bad sort of minimalism

I avoid sensationalism, preferring the understated approach. Sex is one of those subjects that turns a lot of heads. In Brazil, money and religion are volatile subjects. So when addressing them, we try to deal with them in all sobriety. Last week, I posted for the congregation in Brazil 26 summary points on the biblical teaching about sex and marriage. Maybe I’ll share it here one of these days. (Update: Read them here.)

The points reinforced a lesson to the church on sexual immorality. To be holy means, in part, knowing how to deal with our sexuality.

Modern society is soaked in sensuality. The word is counted as a good thing. Not so in Scripture. It’s the door to immorality.

You can’t turn on any media or go outside your door without exposure to it. So there is a need — as in any time or place — to teach clearly about the subject.

¶ At the invitation of the Acton congregation in Michie TN I spoke on their special day May 5. Since it was Decoration Day (to put flowers on graves), I worked off the biblical idea of remembering, sharing in three different moments seven things that remembering will cause us to do. People were gracious in their reception of the material. Maybe I’ll share that here one of these days, too.

¶ Spiritual minimalists want to pare down the gospel to almost nothing. They often quote — and quote badly — 1 Corinthians 15.1-3 as proof that the gospel contains nothing more than the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. But wait! Is the meaning of the cross included? If not, why not?

Certainly it must be. And in Christ’s death comes the church. So says Titus 2.14: “He gave himself for us to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good.” Paul affirms that Jesus gave himself for us in order to purify for himself a people. That people is the church. The church is at the center of God’s plan. The cross and the church are tied together. Evangelizers must help people recognize the church’s identity and appreciate its essential nature.

¶ In the Urbanova congregation we’re learning a Bible verse a week. For week 19, which started yesterday (May 5), the verse is Deuteronomy 4.2: “Do not add a thing to what I command you nor subtract from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I am delivering to you.” We believe we ought to “maintain the [apostolic] traditions” just as they were passed on to us, 1 Corinthians 11.2. In doing that we will be praised.

¶ As hinted at above, I’m in travel mode these days. It’s encouraging to see saints who are faithful and serving diligently after so many years. It’s encouraging to see disciples who are passing on their faith to the next generation. It’s encouraging to see old friends with whom we pick up conversations as if we’d talked yesterday. It’s encouraging to hear of new works beginning across the world. God has much to encourage us with, if we will only notice it.

¶ One writer suggests that success in the Lord’s work may be hindered because evil or uncleanness is present in the lives of his workers. Something to consider. It’s not a factor often cited in church growth literature, but God’s people must demonstrate his holiness in order to have his power.

“If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work” 2 Timothy 2.21 NLT.

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J. Randal Matheny

Servant of the Lord at GoSpeak
Randal and his wife have lived and worked in Brazil since 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. Randal's a lefty, a chocolate lover, an author and a poet. His microblog is randal.us.

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