The Danger of Being Concerned
The word "concerned" has become rather common in some of our circles, the more as it has been appropriated by the group calling itself "Concerned Members of the CRC." Despite a snowstorm, a goodly number of people, especially younger people, ventured out on the evening of Jan. 29 to hear Rev. Nelson D. Kloosterman of Mid-America Reformed Seminary (at Orange City, Iowa) speak at the Dutton church on "The Danger of Being Concerned." The speaker suggested that four questions need to be raised in some self-examination about the measure and extent of our concern.
"Is your concern comprehensive enough?"
In our present conditions, said the speaker, we must beware of both exaggerated anxiety and of too easy a sense of relief. Symptoms of our present problems are widespread and involve faith, doctrine and morality. They appear not only in church, but in every area of our lives. They are evident in our schools and threaten our children and grandchildren. If they continue for another ten years we may properly ask whether those children and grandchildren will hear and know the gospel of Christ at all. Treating a cancer in only one area will do little good if we fail to see that it has spread through the whole body. We must try to treat the whole of the disease.
"Is your concern constructive enough?"
We must not succumb to panic, but seek a cure by aggressive and constructive use of the remedy of God's Word. We need to do this in education. If we are uncomfortable after being subjected to twenty years of liturgical experiments, do we know why we need a liturgy or what the sense of our church services – and sermons – ought to be? Our concern, if it is to be constructive, must be educated and educational. If we don't know church order and try to follow it, our reaction may be dangerous because it is hypocritical. Ignorance and carelessness about polity cause us to "shoot ourselves in the foot." Don't only criticize what is wrong, but promote what is right. The speaker suggested the need for workshops to study what men in office and consistories ought to do. The Bible must be used as the guide for church office and discipline.
One of our greatest dangers at present may be the danger that concerned people be satisfied with merely complaining. Such mere grumbling reminded the speaker of the noisy little Dutch motorbikes (called "bromfietsen") which despite their loud whining changed nothing by their passage. Being contented with futile complaining may divert us into forgetting the Biblical teaching about the Lord's church. Both of the "concerned" organizations in the Netherlands (in the old state church and the Reformed (GKN) churches) succeeded only in retarding, but never in reversing the slide into apostasy. We must beware of developing only a nucleus of complainers instead of a needed movement for Reformation.
"Is your concern consistent enough?"
A real Reformatory movement must work from inside to the outside of the church and must seek consistency of faith and practice. If we are going to stop supporting some of those agencies who promote the un-Biblical ordination of women, we must consistently stop supporting others who do the same. If we say, as over 50 of our church bodies did, that the synod action in approving women's ordination was contrary to the Word of God, and then have those objections brushed aside by the 1985 synod, they and we face the question, "Did you mean it?" If we meant what we said, and the synod refused to repent from its defiance of God's Word, what does God's Word command us to do next? Here "punches are being pulled," as leaders are now silent. If the denomination ignores the Biblical call to repentance and we then do nothing, the devil will rejoice at his victory. The coming synod now faces an excellent overture from Illiana to reverse the previous synods' actions. It is based on one ground: those actions are against the Word of God and are therefore, sin. Is our concern consistent enough? Doesn't the Bible call for a holy expulsion of sin – a holy separation of righteousness from immorality? Doesn't this bear on who may preach in your pulpit? Doesn't this decide on how far you may cooperate with church assemblies?
Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.
2 John 9, 10
"Is your concern committed enough?"
The speaker observed that in a church situation in which various groups seem to be pursuing personal hobbies, some pursuing social justice, others evangelism or preaching, we are perceived as merely committed to being concerned. Is our commitment grounded in the Scriptures? Is it motivated by love for the church of Jesus Christ (which is not the Christian Reformed Church of the 1940's and of trusted past leaders). Do we love that church of today's people, saints and sinners, and officers? Commitment involves not merely "love," but "blood" –the willingness to not only live, but also die for the cause. Will we give up receiving calls, or sacrifice sociability, recognition, time and hobbies, to do the study and work that real commitment requires? Will we pray for our schools as well as our churches and for our counselling services? We will be driven back to the positive demands and the redemptive call of the Scriptures to restore church discipline. Such a consistent commitment may cost friend and family, and will require the daily sacrifice of our own sinful flesh. He who calls to repentance must be first to heed the summons. That concern brings us here tonight. It is not those who are merely concerned that will inherit the kingdom of heaven, but the obedient who do the will of our Father in heaven – His will for the discipline of the church. Ours must be a comprehensive, constructive and consistent obedience. This was the speaker's call to consistent and persistent actions.