Parables Concerning the Church and the Change Agents

John Waddey
John Waddey

November 30th, 2004, 7:42 am #11

<font size=4>PARABLE OF THE QUARRELSOME SHEPHERDS </font>
<font size=3 color=blue face=Times New Roman>Once there were three shepherds who pastured their flocks in a desolate area. They went their separate ways by day but each evening they sheltered their flocks in a common fold. Although all worked for a common master they did not get along very well. One was naturally cranky, another was a jealous sort, and the third was very sensitive and his feeling easily hurt. Each night when the sheep were in the fold the men would gather about a common fire, eat their food and talk. Unfortunately their conversations often turned fractious and bitter. One night their quarreling grew intense. As they shouted and threatened one another, wolves were sneaking ever closer to the darkened fold. The men came to blows, it was an awful sight. While they battled each other, the wolves saw their opportunity. They dashed into the fold tearing at the sheep and scattering them. They mad off with several of the lambs.

The next morning the owner came to check on his sheep. He was shocked and angry at what he found. His sheep were scattered. Many were wounded, others were dead. The shepherds were battered and bruised but not from protecting their sheep. They had exhausted themselves fighting each other. The owner was furious. They were driven from his presence as unfit to serve him.

And the teacher explained that the sheep are God’s people, the shepherds his preachers. The wolves are those who would lead the people into a new kind of faith and worship. He that hath an ear should give heed to the parable. </font>

_____________________________________
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now

E-Mail: [url=mailto:johnwaddey@aol.com]johnwaddey@aol.com[/url]
<font size=4>PARABLE OF JOE THE SOLDIER</font>

<font size=3 color=indigo face=Times New Roman>Joe was a tough, no-nonsense fellow. He grew up in a rough neighborhood and frequently mixed it up with guys who challenged him. Joe was proud to be an American. He did not read the newspaper and only occasionally caught the broadcast news, but he had patriotism in his veins and was ready to defend his nation should an enemy attack her. When war erupted, Joe rushed to the recruitment office and volunteered for the Cause. In boot camp, he had his share of scrapes with other recruits. After he was assigned, he was encouraged to get into the company's boxing program. He put many a man on the canvas and loved doing it. When he was shipped across to the battle zone, he continued to look for challengers to meet in the ring. Man after man fell before his fists and his peers cheered him on and called him their "champion." In fact, so successful was Joe at boxing that his commanding officers kept him busy in the gym and meeting boxers from other outfits. Before he knew it, his hitch was up and Joe came home. When his buddies asked him about his war experiences, all Joe could tell them was how many G.I.s he had whipped in the ring. While other men fought the enemy, Joe was whipping other Americans. Some men were wounded in combat. Some died. Joe got a broken nose, cauliflower ears and a few scars on his face. He was the champ. As he grew older, and as he thought about his buddies who died in the conflict, Joe felt a little embarrassed and did not care to tell his grandchildren about his years as the company's boxing champion.

When the disciples asked the teacher what this story meant, he explained that Joe was a gospel preacher. The war was a spiritual conflict for the soul of the church. The enemy was those who were those who despised the church and were determined to change her into their own image. Those Joe fought and whipped were fellow preachers. And the teacher said, the sons of this world are wiser for their own generation than the sons of light.</font>

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John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now

E-Mail: [url=mailto:johnwaddey@aol.com]johnwaddey@aol.com[/url]
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John Waddey
John Waddey

December 10th, 2004, 7:29 am #12

<font size=4>PARABLE OF THE QUARRELSOME SHEPHERDS </font>
<font size=3 color=blue face=Times New Roman>Once there were three shepherds who pastured their flocks in a desolate area. They went their separate ways by day but each evening they sheltered their flocks in a common fold. Although all worked for a common master they did not get along very well. One was naturally cranky, another was a jealous sort, and the third was very sensitive and his feeling easily hurt. Each night when the sheep were in the fold the men would gather about a common fire, eat their food and talk. Unfortunately their conversations often turned fractious and bitter. One night their quarreling grew intense. As they shouted and threatened one another, wolves were sneaking ever closer to the darkened fold. The men came to blows, it was an awful sight. While they battled each other, the wolves saw their opportunity. They dashed into the fold tearing at the sheep and scattering them. They mad off with several of the lambs.

The next morning the owner came to check on his sheep. He was shocked and angry at what he found. His sheep were scattered. Many were wounded, others were dead. The shepherds were battered and bruised but not from protecting their sheep. They had exhausted themselves fighting each other. The owner was furious. They were driven from his presence as unfit to serve him.

And the teacher explained that the sheep are God’s people, the shepherds his preachers. The wolves are those who would lead the people into a new kind of faith and worship. He that hath an ear should give heed to the parable. </font>

_____________________________________
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now

E-Mail: [url=mailto:johnwaddey@aol.com]johnwaddey@aol.com[/url]
<font size=4>PARABLE OF BUDDY THE BUZZARD </font>

<font size=3 color=indigo face=Times New Roman>One morning I looked up to see a large buzzard circling over our neighborhood. On inquiry I found that his name was Buddy. Ours in a lovely community, pleasing to the eye. Residents have well kept yards with flowering shrubs and fruit trees. Song birds and rabbits abound. We have beautiful lakes and golf courses. But none of these things impress Buddy. He is a fellow with a “single eye.” He looks for road kill or other victims of death, the riper the better. The lovely things that impress most of us are nothing to Buddy, he is feed on corruption.

Buddy has a cousin by the name of Primus the Preacher. Primus looks out over the brotherhood and surveys his brethren. He is not interested in what our missionaries are doing. He cares nothing for wonderful benevolent activities conducted by brethren. He is not impressed by those who labor with struggling churches and help them become strong and stable. He is not concerned with those who are faithfully educating our children in the way of Christ. That others stand in the front lines and engage the enemy, taking the blows and darts of the devil’s troops, does not impress Primus. He spends his time looking for flaws in other preachers: sins, failures, shortcomings, lack of knowledge, mistaken views. Any thing positive or beneficial for the kingdom does not register in Primus’s book; it is the flaws he is interested in. And he can almost always find some if he looks long enough, even if they date back years in the brother’s life. He never forgets if he can find one. The things he searches for need not be well documented; a rumor is usually sufficient.

On another occasion I rounded a corner and there stood Buddy the Buzzard having breakfast of flattened rabbit. It was an ugly sight; not the poor rabbit, but Buddy. Everything about his appearance was disgusting. His naked head and neck seemed diabolic. His cruel sharp bill easily tore the flesh from his prey. It was enough to turn my stomach. Later in the week I encountered Primus, he was feasting on the reputation of a fellow preacher. He was even more disgusting than Buddy. The only difference is that Primus thinks he is a dove; I guess he has never looked in a mirror. </font>

_____________________________________
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now

E-Mail: [url=mailto:johnwaddey@aol.com]johnwaddey@aol.com[/url]
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Dr. Bill Crump
Dr. Bill Crump

December 12th, 2004, 4:08 pm #13

Once upon a time, there was a man named Jack who dressed for work as best as he could. Although he couldn’t afford three-piece suits at $400 each, he did manage a coat and tie, clean shirt and pants, and shined shoes. Thus he was well groomed, and his tidy appearance gave him a little extra boost of confidence to perform his duties to the best of his ability.

But some of Jack’s co-workers approached him with the suggestion that he shed his “clean” appearance for something a bit more “rough-and-tumble.” If he looked more like “everyone else,” he would develop better “relationships” with other similarly clad employees, who otherwise viewed Jack as something of an oddity.

So Jack took the suggestion and next appeared on the job dressed in a wrinkled sweat shirt that sported the logo “Stuff Happens,” along with soiled, torn pants, dirty sneakers, and a baseball cap worn backwards. He had neither shaved nor given any attention to oral hygiene. Thus Jack looked (and smelled) like many other employees. Not only had Jack become slovenly in appearance, but he adopted his comrades’ poor attitude toward their work ethic: doing their best required too much effort; they just wanted to get by. Nevertheless, Jack had a “good time.”

In time, the regional supervisor called Jack into his office. He was concerned about Jack’s CHANGE of appearance and behavior, and informed Jack that, although the company had considered him for a promotion, his current performance just didn’t warrant it. The supervisor was most disappointed in Jack, for he knew that Jack was capable of being a much better employee, both in appearance and performance.

And the Teacher explained that Jack is any church member who falls prey to the Come-As-You-Are attitude rampant in the Change Movement. Encouraging casual dress (more often a license to appear slovenly) and a “relaxed” atmosphere in worship to attract members actually encourages casual attitudes toward God that say, “Lord, I’m really not going to give you my very best, because you are just not worthy of receiving my very best!” With casual attitudes to worship, God is no longer the austere, omnipotent Lord of the universe but becomes a “Big Daddy Buddy” -- no reverence there. If people are given the impression that they need not give their VERY BEST to God (which starts with the simple acts of proper dress and good grooming) and that God will still love them and accept them just as they are, then their worship will not be accepted, just as Cain’s offering was not accepted, because it was not his BEST (Gen. 4:5-7). While it is true that God looks on the heart rather than the exterior, He also knows if the heart has done all that it can do to make a person give his BEST in every single walk of life: from appearance to job performance to worship itself.

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Joe Spivy
Joe Spivy

December 13th, 2004, 6:11 pm #14

With all due respect, and I'm convinced respect is due to those who are brothers in Christ, the "Parable of the Slovenly Employee" is more indicative a particular worldview than it is a reflection of scripture.

For Dr. Crump, it would appear, to attend an assembly of saints in anything other than dress clothes (vs. casual) would be a violation of his conscience. As he seems to be convinced of this I would hope, until he changes his mind, such would continue to be his practice (Romans 14:5-8).

However, to equate casual dress with a "license to appear slovenly" and a "relaxed atmosphere" with a "casual attitude towards God" is (I assume unintentionally) to pass judgment on another based on one person's conscience and the other person's outward appearance. Both of these appear to be violations of scripture (Romans 14:9-18 and James 2:1-4).

Dr. Crump, and others, has heard the "give your best to God" sermon with the application concerning dress as a reflection of the attitude of the heart. More people need to hear, and take to heart, the eternal principle of giving our best to God as an absolutely necessity (Gen 4:5-7 is a good reference). However, dress in assemblies is, at best, a suspect application.

Aaron could not "approach" God dressed in his best (his priestly attire described in Exodus 28)--he most likely would have been struck down by God as had happened to his sons, Nadab and Abihu. Instead, on the Day of Atonement as he was to enter the Most Holy Place, he was to be dressed in a linen tunic and linen undergarments (Leviticus 16:3-4).

In the presence of God he was not allowed to wear the other special garments but instead to come before God dressed in rather plain clothes without any ornamentation. Aaron was a servant and no amount of ornamentation could alter the relationship. None of the New Testament passages describing the dress of those who assembled in the first century place any emphasis on "dressing up." If anything, they require the readers to not dress up (1 Timothy 2:9-10) or not to judge by how another is dressed (James 2:1-4).

If someone purposefully dresses in a way to cause another distress (Romans 14:15-17) then it is sinful. If in one's worldview the way they dress denotes the importance they place on an activity then they should always dress up (for when are we not the servants of God and when are we not trying to give him our best?). The reality is that the curtain of separation was torn at the cross and, clothed in Christ (Galatians 3:26-27), we have constant access through him to the most holy place where God dwells.

To return to the worldview, when Dr. Crump (and many others) equates a "relaxed atmosphere" (which is open to the interpretation of the reader) with a "casual attitude towards God" that means, "Lord, I'm not really going to give you my very best, because you are just not worthy of receiving my very best!" they have become judges of others' hearts. The problem is that they have applied the judgment of their worldview rather than the eternal word of God.

Again, no one should dress simply to provoke another. However, no one should impose a dress code on another and then judge whether another believes God is worthy of their best based solely upon such a man-made code. If Aaron didn't dress in "his best" (as others would see it) and Paul commanded the ladies of the first century not to dress in their "best" (again, as the world would see it) why would we choose now to require such of believers?
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Joined: March 9th, 2002, 4:18 pm

December 14th, 2004, 12:41 am #15

I took Dr Crumps parable as one that simply means giving your best. Not flashy, not showy, just simply your best.
How would one be advised to dress on a first date,
in a court appearance before a judge, or on a job interview.

While that dress would surely be different for all,
dressing your best, is after all, your best regardless
of how it compares to dress of others.

PS Wash your feet too, If you can, of course.

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Joe Spivy
Joe Spivy

December 14th, 2004, 5:00 am #16

I agree with you that it appears Dr. Crumps' intent in his parable is to encourage individuals to simply give their best. It is his interpretation of his own parable, found in the last paragraph of his post, and specifically what it means to "give your best" that is in question. I don't question his sincerity, his intelligence, his love or devotion to God... I'm simply questioning whether "dressing up" ("Not flashy, not showy, simply your best") is a valid criteria for determining the state of one's heart.

Where, in scripture (and I think it is important to appeal to scripture when equating an action with respect for God), does it state that giving our best to God begins with "the simple act of proper dress and good grooming"? Where does it say this means people don't respect God as the "omnipotent Lord of the universe?"

As to your question, "How would one be advised to dress on a first date, in a court appearance before a judge, or on a job interview?" my answer would be "in such a way as to impress the one whom I hoped to impress."

Therein lies at least one problem (and the reason for the reference to Leviticus 16)--you don't impress God with how you dress. If, for you, giving your best starts with how you dress and how you are groomed, then by all means dress in a way that reflects your convictions (and yes, please wash your feet and the rest of your body if you're able). Just please don't judge my heart because I don't wear a suit and tie even I can afford one (and with Goodwill Stores, everyone can afford one).
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Dr. Bill Crump
Dr. Bill Crump

December 14th, 2004, 3:11 pm #17

With all due respect, and I'm convinced respect is due to those who are brothers in Christ, the "Parable of the Slovenly Employee" is more indicative a particular worldview than it is a reflection of scripture.

For Dr. Crump, it would appear, to attend an assembly of saints in anything other than dress clothes (vs. casual) would be a violation of his conscience. As he seems to be convinced of this I would hope, until he changes his mind, such would continue to be his practice (Romans 14:5-8).

However, to equate casual dress with a "license to appear slovenly" and a "relaxed atmosphere" with a "casual attitude towards God" is (I assume unintentionally) to pass judgment on another based on one person's conscience and the other person's outward appearance. Both of these appear to be violations of scripture (Romans 14:9-18 and James 2:1-4).

Dr. Crump, and others, has heard the "give your best to God" sermon with the application concerning dress as a reflection of the attitude of the heart. More people need to hear, and take to heart, the eternal principle of giving our best to God as an absolutely necessity (Gen 4:5-7 is a good reference). However, dress in assemblies is, at best, a suspect application.

Aaron could not "approach" God dressed in his best (his priestly attire described in Exodus 28)--he most likely would have been struck down by God as had happened to his sons, Nadab and Abihu. Instead, on the Day of Atonement as he was to enter the Most Holy Place, he was to be dressed in a linen tunic and linen undergarments (Leviticus 16:3-4).

In the presence of God he was not allowed to wear the other special garments but instead to come before God dressed in rather plain clothes without any ornamentation. Aaron was a servant and no amount of ornamentation could alter the relationship. None of the New Testament passages describing the dress of those who assembled in the first century place any emphasis on "dressing up." If anything, they require the readers to not dress up (1 Timothy 2:9-10) or not to judge by how another is dressed (James 2:1-4).

If someone purposefully dresses in a way to cause another distress (Romans 14:15-17) then it is sinful. If in one's worldview the way they dress denotes the importance they place on an activity then they should always dress up (for when are we not the servants of God and when are we not trying to give him our best?). The reality is that the curtain of separation was torn at the cross and, clothed in Christ (Galatians 3:26-27), we have constant access through him to the most holy place where God dwells.

To return to the worldview, when Dr. Crump (and many others) equates a "relaxed atmosphere" (which is open to the interpretation of the reader) with a "casual attitude towards God" that means, "Lord, I'm not really going to give you my very best, because you are just not worthy of receiving my very best!" they have become judges of others' hearts. The problem is that they have applied the judgment of their worldview rather than the eternal word of God.

Again, no one should dress simply to provoke another. However, no one should impose a dress code on another and then judge whether another believes God is worthy of their best based solely upon such a man-made code. If Aaron didn't dress in "his best" (as others would see it) and Paul commanded the ladies of the first century not to dress in their "best" (again, as the world would see it) why would we choose now to require such of believers?
At no point in my discussion did I say that all needed to dress in “costly array,” as your references to 1 Tim. 2:9-10 and James 2:1-4 would erroneously imply. Indeed, dressing for worship to impress others is just as unacceptable as those who deliberately dress slovenly to appear “cool.” So what is the real “purpose” (there’s a Rick Warren word for you) behind “Come As You Are”? Isn’t it merely a perversion of 1 Tim 2:9-10? Paul tells women (and by implication men as well) not to dress in costly array but modestly; the Change Movement perverts it into “Come Dressed As You Please” (which in itself is a dress code). Knowing human nature, that means dress in virtually anything, no matter how trifling, regardless of one’s means. God deserves our VERY BEST, not our casualness because it makes us feel more “comfortable.”

Your reference to Aaron’s dress on Yom Kippur is hardly relevant here. Surely you don't believe that ONE day of special service in the OLD LAW in which the priest dressed accordingly could possibly apply as a dress code for worship today. Hardly relevant, friend Joe. But since you introduced the topic of priests, I remind you that at all other times, the attire for priestly service was quite SPLENDID, as outlined in Exodus 39.
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winced
winced

December 14th, 2004, 8:05 pm #18

Let's be very careful. Establishing rules for things not even mentioned in the Bible is dangerous. We are a group of people who has always loved the rules. Rules control people. Can we not just let each according to his heart be the judge of what to wear in church?I am all for showing reverence in every way.Anyone who wears inappropriate attire there will soon find that they are not comfortable doing so.

What I am heartsick about is the tendency of some congregations to push worshipping the church itself,in- stead of God and Jesus, and so worried about 'the way we have always done things...' Those things are not sacred. God is and Jesus is.Campbell wasn't sacred, Barton Stone isn't. God is. We are not converted Jews, with a history of religious ritual to overcome.Some of the early churches were congregations made up of converted Jews.We are grafted in Gentiles under God's grace, and unless we drop deifying some of the religious ritual we have espoused and insisted upon, we are going to lose many souls.

Until man stops judging the things of the heart and stops trying to control all who worship God,and how they worship God to the point where any who do it differently are called 'sinning',or legalistic or liberal, and leaves it in it rightful place- to be judged by God, then we are guilty of simply lording it over people and steamrolling over people with power trips - and they frequently get out of control.I know this is true. Church leaders on a power trip wreak more havoc in the member's lives than a pack of wild animals. Things get out of hand.It can go way beyond legalism.Things can get to the point where member's lives are interferd with. This is only done by leaders on power drives.This applies to community churches and the conservative congregations as well.

At our church we were not even studying God's word for a time. They are running so scared about the Restoration movement we have to study from a book proving why the 'church' is right.So now they are worshipping the church. That is all I ever heard about there.I would love to study about God and Jesus, but we are embroiled in 'proving' things to the point its a burden to even go to church anymore. This has gone just too far.
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Dr. Bill Crump
Dr. Bill Crump

December 15th, 2004, 4:10 am #19

Of all the parables regarding the Change Movement that have been posted so far, I’m not surprised that “Parable of the Slovenly Employee” has received much howling and growling.

Winced, here are some questions for you: What is the purpose of “Come As You Are”? Why have contemporary churches that subscribe to the Change Movement made a big issue about it, even to the point of openly advertising it? Do they really think that this will foster more meaningful worship? Why don’t they just keep silent about appearances entirely, if appearances have no bearing on worship? To my knowledge, traditional churches don’t sport signs that advertise “Come Dressed Your Best,” because that would imply a certain "traditional" dress code and would turn some people off; they would feel out of place. Shouldn’t the same apply to contemporary churches that advertise “Come As You Are”? As warped as it may seem, “Come As You Are” also implies a certain type of “dress code”: wear anything but a suit, tie, or long dress; that is, wear anything that doesn't smack of "traditional." Think that’s being “judgmental”? No, friend, it’s just being observant and realistic. Seeing a “Come As You Are” sign in front of a church, how many folks do you think would show up immaculately clad in suit, tie, or long dress; that is, in "traditional" attire? Wouldn’t their “world view” make them feel out of place?

I agree that there is no place for specific dress codes in worship, overtly or covertly, and that especially applies to “Come As You Are.” But given the freedom to “dress down” which “Come As You Are” certainly grants, many people from all walks of life will not only take full advantage of it, they will abuse it and deliberately appear as slobs, because diligence and effort are not required. That’s the lowest common denominator. Therefore, it’s better for congregations to drop the “Come As You Are” policy and instead encourage their membership to examine their own consciences and thereby give their VERY BEST in worship at all times, starting at least with some basic attention to their appearance.
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Jerry Taylor
Jerry Taylor

December 15th, 2004, 3:40 pm #20

Let's be very careful. Establishing rules for things not even mentioned in the Bible is dangerous. We are a group of people who has always loved the rules. Rules control people. Can we not just let each according to his heart be the judge of what to wear in church?I am all for showing reverence in every way.Anyone who wears inappropriate attire there will soon find that they are not comfortable doing so.

What I am heartsick about is the tendency of some congregations to push worshipping the church itself,in- stead of God and Jesus, and so worried about 'the way we have always done things...' Those things are not sacred. God is and Jesus is.Campbell wasn't sacred, Barton Stone isn't. God is. We are not converted Jews, with a history of religious ritual to overcome.Some of the early churches were congregations made up of converted Jews.We are grafted in Gentiles under God's grace, and unless we drop deifying some of the religious ritual we have espoused and insisted upon, we are going to lose many souls.

Until man stops judging the things of the heart and stops trying to control all who worship God,and how they worship God to the point where any who do it differently are called 'sinning',or legalistic or liberal, and leaves it in it rightful place- to be judged by God, then we are guilty of simply lording it over people and steamrolling over people with power trips - and they frequently get out of control.I know this is true. Church leaders on a power trip wreak more havoc in the member's lives than a pack of wild animals. Things get out of hand.It can go way beyond legalism.Things can get to the point where member's lives are interferd with. This is only done by leaders on power drives.This applies to community churches and the conservative congregations as well.

At our church we were not even studying God's word for a time. They are running so scared about the Restoration movement we have to study from a book proving why the 'church' is right.So now they are worshipping the church. That is all I ever heard about there.I would love to study about God and Jesus, but we are embroiled in 'proving' things to the point its a burden to even go to church anymore. This has gone just too far.
Gentlemen

I'm sure you both know that when we stand before the Lord we are naked to His eyes. He doesn't notice what we wear. He only sees us as we really are. That's what we all should be concerned about. Only that. The church isn't a building, it's you and me, our hearts. The born-again christian doesn't need a corporate style organization to worship Jesus. All that is needed is a group of believers with their eyes only on Jesus and not each other. Praying, singing, praising, making loving noise for the Lord Jesus. That's what people need to see. The happiness of being one of the Lords.
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