“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed”. Matthew 21:43,44 (NIV)
I preached from the Parable of the Tenants last Sunday (July 13). It is a difficult and offensive story. Many preachers do not touch it. Some scholars (and I use that term hesitantly) believe it inauthentic and worthy of being ignored. And in the end it is an account that is as imperative to the church today as it was to the chief priests and Pharisees that Jesus was speaking to 2000 years ago. Ultimately, in the parable our Lord is saying this: that God took leadership away from one group and He could do it again. If the church today will not produce fruit for the kingdom then God will make a new church that will.
That is why so many independent churches spring out from the institutionalized churches, that is why so many of the mainline denominations, including and frankly specifically the Presbyterian Church (USA) are likely dying and that death is probably God ordained! That is hard to accept but it is true. Folks it’s God’s vineyard and God is in control and we have sacred trust to manage the gospel well; and mainline denominations as a whole have failed miserably at the task over the past 50 years.
You will be hearing a lot over the next few months about the foibles of the 218th (2008) edition of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and where they have, in their wisdom (again using the term hesitantly), decided the church should be going. My personal response was the first post I placed on my new blog space. I pray you fellow Presbyterians will be hearing from your elders and pastors as to how they feel about this year’s General Assembly. Ultimately only the Lord knows what effect these decisions will have on our churches and on the denomination as a whole. My elders and I will be praying and listening for guidance from the Lord. We will strive to be faithful to Jesus Christ in all we do in and amidst our own foibles. May we not add on to the incredible damage already done at General Assembly.
While the General Assembly may believe that they (falsely) rule the vineyard, we pray with God’s help that we will focus on the gifts of the vineyard, understanding that they are precious treasures given to us by God almighty through Jesus Christ. May the Spirit drive all that we are doing and may need to do to be faithful. May He fill your lives with bounty from his vineyard.
God bless you,