noun: schism; plural noun: schisms
a split or division between strongly opposed sections or parties, caused by differences in opinion or belief.
synonyms: division, split, rift, breach, rupture, break, separation, severance, chasm, gulf, discord, disagreement, dissension - "the schism between her father and his brother"
Schism is weird sounding word but it describes perfectly the differences between various opposing factions. For example, there is a schism between Packers fans and Bears fans, Democrats and Republicans . . . politicians in Washington D.C. and . . . the people they represent.
I was reading through the Book of Acts a few days ago and it struck me that there is a schism in the church these days - between what the church use to be and what it is today. Read with me from the Book of Acts:
"42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." - Acts 2:42-47
Is there are schism between what we just read and the churches we attend? I think there is. How many of you thought that passage from Acts 2 described "a commune" rather than the church? I did. But I come from a generation that feared communism (as in Soviet Union, Communist China and Vietnam). Maybe communes no longer have that "hippy" connotation. The passage in Acts that we just read describes what the church was like at the beginning. So, why the change?
I think the church has changed because of each of us and our opinions of who God is and the importance He has in our lives. Many treat God like the spare tire in our car's trunk. We tend to pray only when we need something. God is our personal genie in a bottle rather than the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent Creator of the Universe. So, let's use Acts 2 as our measuring stick.
If we examine the churches we go to these days, are these things true?
- Are we devoted to the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles? We should be.
- Do we fellowship with one another? Eating doughnuts after church and talking about the Packers is NOT fellowship! We need to learn about each other and about God. What are the struggles we are facing? "How may I help you?"
- Do we break bread with one another? Do we have meals together as a church? We should. Doughnuts are NOT a meal.
- Do we pray with and for one another? This needs to be more than an e-mailed to-do list for God. We should meet together and pray together.
- Do we meet together as a church family? Not only on Sunday but throughout the week. The early church did. We should too.
- Do we share our possessions and belongings with one another as there is a need? We should. If we have an abundance of something, why don't we sell it of give it to someone in need?
- Do we go to church . . . everyday? The early church did.
- Do we eat our food with gladness? Or do we complain about having brussel sprouts again because we don't like them?
- Do we praise God? Not only in church but outside of it? Have you ever said, "Praise God!" out loud?
- Do we have favor with ALL people? Atheists? Muslims? Mormons? Roman Catholics? We should. Not conforming to their beliefs but treating them like the Good Samaritan treated the stranger on the road.
“At the most basic level, self-deception is fooling ourselves into believing something that is false - or - not believing something that is true.” ― Cortney S. Warren, Lies We Tell Ourselves: The Psychology of Self-Deception.
"Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. 2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. 3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. 4 He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil." - Psalm 36:1-4
Is that us? Is that the church of today? Is that the church WE attend? If it is, that is something that needs to change.
"23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." - Psalm 139:23-24
In 1546, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses do the door of the church and caused a schism - a split - and the Protestant Reformation began. Perhaps it is time for another such schism in the church of today because today's church is straying from the original meaning of the word.
Martin Luther - The Full Movie