Sunny skies and smooth sailing are the exception rather than the norm for those who have truly given their hearts and lives to Christ. This is a fallen world, after all. Storms come and go and promise to return.
The Presbyterian Church in Canada is about to head into some very choppy waters.
Congregations, sessions, presbyteries and synods have all been presented by the General Assembly Office with a long list of documents to study and report by the end of January 2018. There are four issues: censure definitions, provision for equalizing elders, physician-assisted suicide and human sexuality. The first two are relatively minor. The third is deep and existential. The fourth has enough ammunition to split us in several directions.
Those who have read these eight reports — there are a total of five for sexuality alone — might feel somewhat overwhelmed. Even those ministers, elders and believers who are familiar with these issues (none of which are new) might be tempted to give only cursory examination and selective response. Some might even turn away. To properly digest, study, discuss, pray, discern and respond in such a short time will be daunting.
But we believe the task of studying and reporting can be done if there is a desire to seek and be in God’s will.
For many years, Renewal Fellowship has had several prayers for the PCC. Two of them stand out:
- a deep hunger for the teaching of the Bible and its authority.
- a recall to lives of biblical purity, especially on the part of those entrusted with leadership of the people of God.
Yes, those are traditional stances. Some might call them conservative, derisively.
But we at Renewal Fellowship believe that genuine revival awaits for believers congregations and courts which refuse to reinterpret scripture in order to support their human desires.
There is a belief in some circles of the PCC that we have some catching up to do. “It’s time,” they say. It’s time to get with it and change our traditional definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. It’s time to reform our theology in the same way we allowed women as elders and ministers. It’s about social justice, they say.
The reality is much deeper. It’s about sin. It’s about the church adhering to scriptural truth. It’s about gender complementarity. It’s about the enduring struggle to live lives that are in tune with God’s will. It’s about sacrificing our physical desires and seeking a spiritual peace that comes from a connection to our triune God. And we are all — the hetero community and those who are LGBTQ — at fault.
Faced with liberal attitudes in the church and secular culture, it’s easy to get the feeling that we are on the margins, even in our own congregations and presbyteries.
But here’s the good news: you are not alone. I am going to suggest that the Holy Spirit-fueled, apostolic, theologically conservative, evangelical — pick your adjective — element of the PCC is larger and more vibrant than you might think.
Twenty years ago, it took real guts for a hetero person to publicly support the gay community. Now, the opposite is true; it takes the same courage to stand up for traditional beliefs.
Renewal Fellowship is here to say it’s OK to be Holy Spirit-fueled, apostolic, theologically conservative and evangelical! Be strong and courageous. Be counter-cultural in a Christlike way. You have many, many friends.
Renewal Fellowship is here to pray for you and with you. We are here to encourage you and listen. We are here to be a prayerful presence in the courts of our church.
And at the same time, it’s OK to love our friends and neighbours — because we are all created in God’s image — notwithstanding their natural orientations, lifestyles and choices. It’s more than OK: Christ demands it! We can be welcoming without agreeing. We can be loving and listening and respectful and non-judgmental without caving in to secular arguments.
This is a time of great decision in the PCC. Renewal Fellowship is here to remind the church of the words of the Lord to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.”
Let us boldly seek the Creator’s face and do more to turn our lives completely over to Christ’s Spirit.
God’s will be done.