This picture is of Saxon Harbor on Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. The lovely rusty red color of the water is the result of a heavy rain. While the harbor close to the swollen rivers feeding the lake were far from pristine, further out on the lake, the water still had a deep blue hue. As the old saying goes, “The solution to pollution is dilution.”
Or maybe not. We all know that dilution hardly solves pollution, though it might hide it for a while. It seems to me as though we can far too easily treat sin in the church and the Conference in a similar fashion. If we dilute something icky with enough good works and benevolent actions, the sin does not seem so bad. This is not necessarily a conscious approach—it’s just that we can inevitably keep ourselves occupied with really good missional activities so that we never attend to the stain of sin that cannot be diluted.
This does not seem to go over well in Scripture. My pastor here in Milton, WI has been preaching through a series on the churches in Revelation (thank you Pastor Nate). The call to repentance is vivid and clear throughout these passages:
To the church in Ephesus: “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.” (Revelation 2:4-5)
To the church in Pergamum: “Therefore repent” (Revelation 2:16a)
To the church in Sardis: “Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.” (Revelation 3:3a)
To the church in Laodicea: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3:19)
I have written a great deal about our missional call to church revitalization, leadership development, church planting, and gospel saturation. These are truly important, but are a miss if we run ahead without addressing sin. As we lean into the theme of “Restored for a Purpose”, let’s continue to live on purpose without missing the call to being restored. Restored through repentance and walking closely with Jesus . . . as churches, and as a General Conference. For more about this idea of the importance of being restored, you can check out a Two Minute video at https://www.facebook.com/7thDayBaptists/videos/925027904666491/.
Just a thought to consider–how do our churches engage in a posture of repentance and restoration through our weekly rhythms?
Grace and peace,
Carl Greene, Executive Director, SDB General Conference of USA and Canada
Photo courtesy of Seth Greene.