Closing The Gap

Every Sunday we affirm the teaching of our forefathers enshrined in the Apostles' and Nicene creeds. We boldly declare, "I believe in the holy, catholic church" [Apostles’] and "I believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic church" [Nicene]. These are not mere habitual repetitions of biblical truths by which we confidently express our orthodoxy. Nor are they rote liturgical practices performed without engaging the heart, the mind and the will. Far from either, while our affirmation of faith identifies us doctrinally with our spiritual forefathers, and while our solid orthodoxy separates us from those traditions that incorrectly reject such teaching, at the same time our affirmations are to engage the will by leading us to defend and apply these truths as certain proofs of the correctness of their content and the sincerity of our confession. This is true in respect of all doctrine in general and in this case, our doctrine of the church.

Thus, to believe in the church or to believe the church (Calvin), means not only that we believe the truth that the church teaches, that is, the truth that continues and corresponds with the system of doctrine contained in Scripture but also that we believe in the practical demonstration of this truth in our lives. In the space of this brief writing, this denotes at least two principles.

Firstly, our business is to be kingdom - oriented people who are to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, .." Mt 6:33. According to our Lord and King, this is the agenda of the occupants of his kingdom. We have no agenda of our own. The King’s business is our business. Our lives are to be aimed at and e governed by those principles that define and promote our Lord's kingdom and righteousness. While those on the other side of this "kingdom line" spend their lives worrying about what to eat, what to drink and what to wear, kingdom people refuse to spiral their blood pressure by worrying about these mundane (but necessary) matters because we understand that our loving Father is also sovereign, good and personal . We are assured that he knows what we need before we ask of him, v. 8, and he who sumptuously feeds the birds of the air and who provides regal robes for the transient flowers of the field, will much more feed and clothe those he lovingly created in his own image and then graciously regenerated by the Holy Spirit to be conformed into the image of his Son Jesus Christ, vv. 26-30; Rom 8:26. My brothers and sisters, if we do not believe these truths and evidence them in our daily lives, then we belong to that category Jesus Christ strongly indicts as being of little faith, Mt 6:30.

Secondly, we are to demonstrate the reality of these transforming truths in our homes and in the church. This calls not for any feigned expressions of a dubious spirituality but for a practical "rubber-meets-the-road" commitment to these teachings in the context of our relationships. Thus, instead of merely putting up with one another in order to "keep the peace", we are required to love our neighbors as we love ourselves and as sacrificially, lavishly and boundlessly as exemplified by our God who sends his Son to be a propitiation for our sins, 1 Jn 4:7-11. In so doing, we show the world that we are born of God and that we are authentic disciples of Jesus Christ, Jn 13:34-35. In so doing, we also deepen our faith and strengthen our families and the church.

Sadly, these truths have not been identifying marks among us. Despite much preaching and teaching and notwithstanding much exhortation and encouragement, correction and rebuke with regard to these matters, sinful patterns of self-ishness, shallow-ness and care-lessness abound. These are seen on at least on three fronts:

  • we're so absorbed in our own trials that we refuse to reach out to others in genuine displays of biblical love. By this we neglect the truth that the strength with which we serve others is not ours but it is Christ's which works itself out in our lives- see 2 Cor 12:9-10.
  • we're so overjoyed with "what the Lord has done for us" that we refuse to strengthen the brothers and sisters in return. This proves that we either do not believe or grasp the dynamic of the inter-connectedness of the church as taught in 1 Cor 12; etc., and as repeatedly studied and discussed in our Sunday School classes.
  • we're complacent in that our relationships are not rooted in the Word of God and are not God-honoring, Christ-exalting and Spirit-empowered but shallow, religious nonthreatening engagements, in which we tell one another what we want to hear instead of challenging one another to increased growth into Christ based on his Word.

Brothers and sisters, these things should not be. In the words of Arthur W. Pink "To be saved from the power of sin is to have our eyes opened so that we can see things in God's light –.." How true! How appropriate for All Saints Redeemer Church! The gap between our profession and practice of truth, between the doctrine we uphold and its implementation in our lives, is ever-widening. Christian doctrine must interpret Christian experience, Alister E. McGrath, Understanding Doctrine: What It Is – and Why It Matters, p. 175. Brothers and sisters, the time has come and gone for us to close the gap. Let’s repent and return to the height from which we have fallen.

Our Brother’s Keeper

As we have learned from previous studies, the church is the body of Jesus Christ, an organic covenant community of saints, that is, holy people. By holy is meant, fundamentally, otherness or separateness. To the question other than what and separate from and to what, we answer other than sinful and separate from the world and unto God. We “.. are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [God’s] own possession, .. called out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Pe 2:9-10. The church is a holy community; this is by divine decree, definition and design. 

One of the consequences of being in communion with one another is that we are Spiritually bound together in order to be built up together “.. to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” v. 5. We are “.. fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” Eph 2:19-21. Our organic unity requires us to be our brother’s keeper, that is, we are to uphold the holy distinctiveness of our unity by holding one another accountable for our rds, actions, attitudes, desires, decisions, etc, in other words, for our lives. We are our brother’s keeper!!

The pressing question is how do we fulfill this responsibility? Here, we encounter a slight (?) problem: on the one hand the Scripture assures us that we are able to instruct one another, Rom 15:14, but on other, we are acutely aware of our own fallenness, sins and wickedness. On the one hand, the New Testament commands us to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Col 3:16, but on the other hand, we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Rom 3:23, for “Who can say, "I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin"? Pro 20:9. Truly this is a situation that calls for wisdom, humility and wisdom. By the way, the words instruct in Rom 15 and admonish in Col 3, the same in the original language, mean to teach with regard to one’s belief and to direct with respect to one’s behavior. Its broader sense is that of warning and encouraging by setting right one’s thoughts in order that one may bring one’s actions in conformity with one’s beliefs. Yes, what we believe determines how we act; our doctrine determines our behavior. This is our collective charge, our reciprocal responsibility. We are our brother’s keeper. How do we go about satisfying this covenant responsibility? For the purposes of this brief report, in two ways:

Firstly, we seek the Lord’s wisdom. David prayed, “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, ..” Ps 25:4-5. Life’s situations are often complex and our best knowledge is tainted with defects. Only the Word of God is infallible and profitable for all matters of life, 2 Tim 3:16-17, and only the Holy Spirit can bring these truths to our minds, mouths, hearts and wills. Therefore, we actively pursue the Lord’s direction in order to meet our current demands so that in counseling others, we may say with the Servant, “The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.” Isa 50:4.

Secondly, we are to counsel our brother patiently. Remember Paul’s instruction to Timothy: “ preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Tim 4:2. (Our emphasis). This entails forbearance with their responses, long-suffering with their attitudes and a self-restraint which is not vengeful. Simply stated, we must afford others the opportunity and the time to recognize and repent of their sins. This is especially necessary when sound judgment is required in those matters involving “disputable matters”, Rom 14:1 (NIV), that is, such cases as dancing, card-playing, movie- going, and so on, about which Scripture has not directly spoken. We do well to remember that, in spite of our most intense ambitions and notwithstanding our earnest desire to witness a sincere change in our brothers and sisters, we are not the Holy Spirit! It is He alone that convicts us of our sins and that empowers us to turn from our transgressions back unto the Lord, Jn 16:8-11; Gal 5:16:22-24.

An integral aspect of patience is our practicing the law of charity- granting others the benefit of the doubt. This means that, unless our brother shows an unquestionable disregard for our concerns, a stubborn rejection of our counsel and a sustained refusal to change, we are to assume he will “soon” be brought to repentance. After all, do we not love him as we love ourselves? Is not this love one that “.. is patient and kind; [that] does not envy or boast; [that] is not arrogant or rude.”? Is not our love one that “.. does not insist on its own way; [and] is not irritable or resentful”? Surely! Moreover, it “.. bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Above all, it never ends. 1 Cor 13:4-5, 7-8a. We are our brother’s keeper.

However, what happens in those unpleasant situations in which our brothers reject our counsel?

Remembering That We Belong to the Lord

The apostle Paul teaches that all members of the church have different roles and responsibilities (notice I did not say rights). These are indicated by the diverse spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit, in his sovereign wisdom and goodness, confers upon each believer for the spiritual growth of the entire church, to the glory of God, 1 Cor 12:4-7. The apostle Peter also reiterates this truth: Spiritual gifts are expressions of God's varied grace to be used in service to one another and for the glory of God, 1 Pe 4:10-11.

While it is true that the Holy Spirit assigns specific gifts to each believer for the common good, it is also true that there are other abilities and responsibilities that are applicable to all believers. One such responsibility is that of exhortation. Thus, the writer of Hebrews admonishes his hearers:Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of "you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin..." Heb 3:12-13. He later repeats this necessity of collective accountability by urging them ".. to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." 10:24-25. 

The principle is simply this: our Spiritual union in Christ necessarily places us in a communion of saints in which we are required not only to live holy lives but also to exhort and encourage one another to do the same. "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." 1 Ths 5:11.

From this perspective, we can clearly see that sin is not simply a personal matter. While we cannot deny the biblical notion of individual accountability before God and man, we also need to understand that sin has a democratic dimension – it shares its sinister effects among others. From the very beginning of history, Eve, who was deceived by the menacing, talking serpent, gave some of the fruit "to her husband who was with her….. And he ate." Gen 3:7 (emphasis added.). Let us not be deceived that our sin is our own business; it is ominously deceitful.

Sin deceives us into thinking that it’s pleasing. The truth is, it brings destruction.

Sin deceives us into thinking that it is trifling. The truth is, Scripture terms it a tragedy. Sin deceives us into supposing that it is only an accident. The truth is, God calls it an abomination.

Sin deceives us into thinking we are simply exercising our liberty. The truth is, God calls it bondage.

Sin deceives us by alluring us with its soft voice, beautiful promises and well-packaged presents. The truth is, these very instruments of fleeting enjoyment are messengers of death possessing the most potent poisons.

Sin deceives us with the assurance of immediate gratification. The truth is, sin's payday is never immediate, but later, and it's never delight but death.

Sin deceives us into reckoning we are suffering from weakness. The truth is, God labels it wickedness.

Sin deceives us into believing that we're not as bad as the Scripture says we are; we are really developing spiritually and all we have to do is take care of a few shortcomings in our lives. The truth is, we are in a state of dangerous moral and spiritual declension which can only be reversed by replacing our empty religious deeds and powerless, prideful self-righteousness by the diligent pursuit of Christ alone.

Brothers and sisters, beware of the deceitfulness of sin! Hebrews 3 warns us that sin is a deceptive, destructive monster that hardens our hearts. The effective antidote to this evil

power is a collective exhortation and accountability to holy living. We do so by prodding

one another to faithful attendance at corporate worship whereat we partake of the Word and Sacraments, God's instituted means of our spiritual growth and sustenance. The neglect of

this is frightening. It is not the mere lapsing into a state forgetfulness or a simple slip into

some minor oversight but the terrifying prospect of the hardening of our hearts, that is, a

complete and irreversible turning away from God. We are to exhort one another unto

covenant faithfulness in all aspects of worship, witness and work … while it is called today.

The body of the Lord Jesus Christ therefore is no place for selfish, unconcerned and

detached attitudes and actions. By definition and by sovereign design, our lives and our

destinies are inseparably intertwined because we are one body, an organic, corporate entity

he unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of with one goal: the attainment of ".. 

God, .. mature manhood, .. the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Eph 4:12.

Such are the purpose and priority of those that belong to the church, really, of those that belong to the Lord. Remember that because we belong to the Lord, we are indeed, our brother’s keeper and therefore we are to keep encouraging and provoking one another to holiness "without which no one will see the Lord." Heb 12:14.

The Communion of the Saints

The term saints means holy ones. When the New Testament refers to Christians as saints, it affirms that we are a holy people. Fundamentally, the term holy refers to that which is separated. Its use in Scripture indicates that above all, it is a characteristic that applies to God and that is applied by him to those that are in a relationship with him. The fundamental idea of holiness is that of unapproachableness, a condition that is based on the fact that God is divine and therefore absolutely distinct from his creatures. Holiness therefore marks the distinctiveness or otherness of God when considered in relation to creation. 

However, there is a secondary sense in which God's holiness is to be understood and that is in its ethical dimension. In this regard, God is holy because he does not sin; indeed, he cannot sin; he is altogether sinless. This ethical purity is an active principle of God proving itself in his righteous works and actions towards, on behalf of and even against his creatures. The primary Old Testament depiction of the holiness of God is that of light, a light of the divine glory, Ex 13:21-22; 40:34-38, and a light in the form of a consuming fire, Dt 4:24; Ps 97:3; Heb 12:29.

Among those persons and things that the Lord God separated unto himself in a special relationship were the:

patch of desert ground on which Moses stood, Ex 3:5

land of Canaan was called the holy land, Ps 78:54;

city of Jerusalem; Neh 11:1;

solemn assemblies, Ex 12:16; sabbaths , Ex 16:23; convocations and feasts, Lev 23:2-4;

prophets, Lk 1:70;

priestly garments, Ex 28:2;

Levites and the priests, Ex 28-40;

tent of meeting and ark of the testimony; table; lampstand, altars of burnt offering and incense; and so on, and all their utensils, Ex 30:27-31

items of the tent of meeting that the Kohathites were to carry, Num 4: 15


These were holy because the Lord God decreed them to be so and consecrated them unto himself for his own purposes and glory.

In both the Old and the New Testament, ethical holiness is never a quality that terminates in and that is produced by man himself. It is always the result of the regenerating and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit within the heart and lives of God's covenant people. Again, we see that the biblical conception of holiness is always indicative of a relationship that we have with the Lord. Thus, when we speak of the communion of the saints, we refer not to a loose organization or network of individuals who are nice, religious people striving to do the best that they can but rather, to God's covenant people that he chose in Christ "before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him." Eph 1:4.

Human beings, created in the image of God, are "finite analogies" of the infinite, covenant God whose very existence is covenantal in that Father, Son and Holy Spirit "live in unceasing devotion to each other." (Dr. Michael Horton God's Promise: Introducing Covenant Theology, p. 10). This means that we were created in a covenant relationship with the Triune God and as a result, with one another. The Fall of Adam which plunged man and the rest of creation into sin, disarray and divine judgment, was not the last word in history, for God in his sovereign mercy and goodness, had chosen unto himself a holy people who, after regeneration by the Holy Spirit unto faith alone in Christ alone, would live holy lives to demonstrate the reality of their covenant relationship with their God and Savior. These are the very ones whom he has been pleased to place into his covenant community, the church, the body of Christ, whose members he calls to be holy in all their conduct "since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."" 1 Pe 1:15 -16. Thus, the saving grace of God is also a sanctifying grace that rules righteously in our lives, Rom 5:21. "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, " Tit 2:11-12.

As the divinely constituted communion of saints, the church is therefore that body of holy people whom God has set apart from the world unto himself for his own glory. It is within this covenant community that we demonstrate the concrete existence of our relationship with God by living faithful and fruitful lives. We are a holy people with a heavenly agenda. As God's covenant people whom he has sovereignly redeemed from death, sin and Satan, we no longer live for the passions of the flesh but for the will of God, 1 Pe 4:2. We are a holy communion that the Lord Jesus Christ is conforming to His image through the ordinary means of the preached Word and the proper administration of the sacraments and also through prayer, fellowship, and other benefits and privileges that he has given us. One of these that is often neglected is the means of counsel.

The Problem(?) of Discipline

Scripture teaches the harsh truth that, although we have been saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, the old sin nature still remains within us; an intense spiritual battle takes place on the plains of our heart, Rom 7:14-24; Gal 5:16-17; etc. Ever so often, perhaps much too frequently, "the old man" tenaciously rears his ugly head and overtakes us by causing us to be hesitant in our faith, stumble in our walk, sin against our Savior and Lord and profane his holy Name. One such dimension in which this ongoing battle takes place is in the relationships among Christians. Yes, we know that we are our brother’s keeper and that we are charged to seek and to strive for his interests and good. This is amply shown in Scripture by the propensity of those "one another" passages drenching the New Testament and which I have already shared with you. However, because of our remaining sin, relationships, even those within the body of Christ, are sometimes very difficult to maintain and many times we would rather settle for faint, sickly and even distant acquaintanceships rather than the significant, thriving and robust intimacy that is required of us who are members of this one organic body, one body with many members, 1 Cor 12. 

For the purpose of retaining the unity, purity, peace and prosperity of his church, the Lord Jesus Christ has given us the tool of church discipline. To members of a self-centered, self-glorying twenty-first century American society, this word evokes negative thoughts of unwanted intrusion into one's life, unloving severity against a person and unnecessary oversight of our conduct, and so on. Among the ignorant and unlearned, discipline is tantamount to cruelty and abuse. After all, we are our own sovereign lords and no one has the right to judge us! Our major goals in this life are the pursuit of our happiness and the protection of our rights. Woe to those persons or institutions that have the audacity to prevent us in our quest for self-fulfillment and self-actualization!

However, to the members of Christ, that is, those who are in an eternal Spiritual union with him and who are necessarily joined in communion with one another, those upon whom the end of the ages has come and who are a new creation in Christ, 1 Cor 10:11; 2 Cor 5:17, there is an entirely different and opposing perspective. The Christian understanding of discipline is rooted in the wider concept contained in the Latin disciplina which covers an extensive range of principles and duties including teaching or instruction, training, nurturing, and so on [hence, a disciple is a learner, a follower of a teacher], in short, education that is designed to promote, maintain and strengthen the spiritual health and welfare of the church. As such, Reformed Theology holds the faithful practice of church discipline to be the third mark of a true church, the former two being the faithful preaching of the Word of God and the proper administration of the sacraments,.

The Hebrew musar denotes correction that results in education. God's discipline of his people in the Old Covenant is based on the covenant relationship that he has established with them for his glory and for their good and benefit. His corrective discipline is intended to achieve the reformation of his covenant people. However, should they insist in turning away from him in attitudes and actions of rebellion, then he promises that he will strike or punish them:

Lev 26:23-24 "And if by this discipline you are not turned to me but walk contrary to me, then I also will walk contrary to you, and I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins.

The Greek word paideia (from which we get pediatrician and other cognates) continues the Old Testament meaning. It is extensively used in such texts as Heb 12:5-11:

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Paideia signifies guiding and nurturing a child towards maturity of mind and morals by training, instruction, reproof and punishment. From the passage above, we see that this is the Lord's design for the individual believer and for his church as a whole. Indeed, the loving discipline the Lord confirms our covenant sonship.

In both the Old and New Testaments, therefore, discipline has a theological basis. Its intent is to produce righteousness, that is, thinking and acting cording to God's own will, or, following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Discipline, when properly understood and correctly applied, is necessary and productive in the life of God's people. It is his will for the church. From this perspective, discipline is not problematic.

Speaking the Truth in Love

One of the premier characteristics of the church that we are learning from our current Sunday Schoolseries is that it is one body consisting of many members.This is the recurrent emphasis of the apostle Paul in his first letter to the church at Corinth. “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ… For the body does not consist of one member but of many…If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body…Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." vv. 12, 14, 17-20, 27. The necessity of the unity and diversity of the members of the church is reflected and paralleled in the diversity of the Spiritual gifts the Lord has given to his body in order to strengthen and build it up in its unityand maturity, see vv. 4-11.

From this perspective, we can clearly see that within the body of Christ, the characteristics of unity and diversity are not in conflict; the former is reflected in the latter which in turn strengthens it. Thus, the members of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ are bound together in an inseparable, interlocking and interdependent relationship that flows from their union togethein Christ and that is witnessed in their communion with one another, the communion of the saints. One of the divine purposes of this holy communion is simply this: "that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." vv. 25-26. I'm sure we recall Rom 12:15, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep."

Within the last few months at All Saints Redeemer Church, we have all been made aware of the pressing needs of some of our families. These necessities have come to us by way of private and public testimony and bythe departure of family members. In addition, we have all seenthe obvious expressions of pain, difficulty and stress ontheir faces. The questions confronting us today are, using the Word of God as our basis and chief means: how many of ushave taken (and are still doing so) the time and effort to comfort our brothers and sisters? How many of us have made deliberate, conscious commitments to be their instruments of blessing and healing?How many of us have gone the extra mile, that is, have gone out of our way,to reach out to them inmeaningful and measurable aspects?

Now, I know that it is easy for us to mention "nice" platitudes like "I'm praying for you"; "call me if you need anything"; "the Lord isan on-time God"; and so on. However, rejoicing and suffering with our brothers involves much more thanuttering such safe and prosaic expressions. The Scripture admonishes us to speak the truth in love, Eph 4:15. Further, the apostle John commands us "to not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." 1 Jn 3:18. In other words, Christians are to be their brother's keeper, that is to say, to demonstrate the true meaning of the communion of the saints by ministering theWord of God in response to their current needs and by aiding them in material ways, v. 17.

Now this requires that we are to know our brothers and sisters intimately for how can we minister to them if we are not familiarand empatheticwith their conditions? How can we serve them and build them up in the faith (and strengthen the body of Christ in the process… to the glory of God) if we are not exercising the initiative to truly know them as the Lord requires of us? How can we truly love them if our relationship with them goes no further than brief Sunday and midweek encounters that occur in a "safe zone"? How can we love them if we are not willing to take the risks of being open and transparent, willing to let our true selves with all our warps, warts and wickedness be revealed in the process of serving them? Have we forgotten that our ministry to others is to be done in the strength of our Lord? Have we disregarded our Lord's assurance that his power is made perfect in our weakness and that when we are weak in ourselves then we are strong in him? 2 Cor 12:9-10.

How sinful and how self-defeating it is for us to refuse to satisfy the needs of our brothers and sisters by "minding our own business" or by "keeping ourselves to ourselves." In addition to establishing relationships within the church based on personal preferences of others, subjective sentiments and superficial standards rather than on the eternal foundation of the Word of God, these attitudes undermine the unity and holiness of the church by promoting aspirit of self-centeredness. Superficiality, selfishnessand mediocrity have no place in the body of Christ. They expose a vile carelessness andcontemptible indifference that are incongruous with the transformed livesrequired of those that are born of God. "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." 1 Jn 4:9, 11

Let us turn from this sin by seeking the forgiveness of our Lord and then by seeking our neighbor in word and in truth.