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October Newsletter

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Information and news from other PNC churches.

THE HERALD

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Rev. Stephen Snodgrass

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The Pendulum Effect

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

Some time ago, while preaching on the law and grace, I notice that every time I would mention the law several individuals would become uneasy. Knowing the history of the congregation and the misconceptions that they had on the subject, I paused and made a statement. There were no visitors and I felt that we needed to explain the fact that although some have abused the Gospel and choose to preach an unbalanced truth, punctuating law more than grace, does not mean that we simply disregard the directives of God for His people. History has proven that there is a tendency in man to react when faced with a dispute or disagreement in the church, whether it is a theological difference or in method only, leading him to swing far in the opposite direction. We find this true in common day situations.

Have you ever been driving and for whatever reason, you veer off the road? You know it is hard to fight the urge to over-correct. Many do this and it leads to an uncalled for accident, when all that was needed was a simple correction of the wheel and they would have been back on track. In the Christian life we fight the same propensities to become reactionary or over-correct when facing what we believe is a “veering,” from the path. This action has also been called, “the pendulum effect,” simply meaning that when faced with a decision to stand on a matter of importance, we take our past experiences and premonitions and let them guide us blindly to the opposite end of the spectrum of the matter. This causes yet another error and the “pendulum” begins its never ending motion. This inevitably leads to a collision course, when a simple correction would have been sufficient.

I recently read an article on this subject by a person by the name of Danny, (I tried to find his full name without success) which said, “The Reformer’s rightly reacted against Rome’s heretical teaching that conflates justification and sanctification into justification = faith + works. They rightly championed their cause with the rally cry, “By faith alone!” Now, the Reformer’s didn’t make this mistake as much as later generations did, where they swung so far to the “Faith alone!” side of things that Christian obedience and the law in the Christian life were thrown out the window, leading to license. Groups then react to “license,” swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction, leading to “legalism.”

Today we are faced with these same dangers. Is it possible that it is this same effect that has led many to disregard revival meetings in their churches? Due to the fact that previous experiences and misplaced emphasis has caused an over-reaction to simply dismiss these times of spiritual awakening that we desperately need. Is it possible that this effect has caused us to become quieter and more “reserved,” in our worship? Have we let those who used emotionalism to deny us the blessing that come from liberal worship and praise? Is it possible that we have let those who place more importance on the outward appearance than on the inward heart of man to cause us to “veer” from the clear Biblical principles for modesty and simplicity? Do we embrace those that error? No! But it is possible that a simple correction of direction is needed, rather than a radical change that will not only begin a course for disaster, but sets in motion a “pendulum effect,” that does not end.

Paul, in his writings to the Ephesians, instructed the reader that God would guide him through these difficult decisions and would help him to be a well-balanced Christian. Adam Clarke comments on chapter thirteen, verse seventeen, “’That ye, being rooted and grounded in love’ - Here is a double metaphor; one taken from agriculture, the other, from architecture. As trees, they are to be rooted in love - this is the soil in which their souls are to grow; into the infinite love of God their souls by faith are to strike their roots, and from this love derive all that nourishment which is essential for their full growth, till they have the mind in them that was in Jesus, or, as it is afterwards said, till they are filled with all the fullness of God. As a building, their foundation is to be laid in this love. Here is the ground on which alone the soul, and all its hopes and expectations, can be safely founded. This is a foundation that cannot be shaken; and it is from this alone that the doctrine of redemption flows to man, and from this alone has the soul its form and comeliness. In this, as its proper soil, it grows. On this, as its only foundation, it rests.” On verse eighteen Clarke continues, “’What is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height’ - Here the apostle still keeps up the metaphor, comparing the Church of God to a building; and as, in order to rear a proper building, formed on scientific principles, a ground plan and specification must be previously made, according to which the building is to be constructed, the apostle refers to this; for this must be thoroughly understood, without which the building could not be formed. They were to be builded up a heavenly house, a habitation of God through the Spirit; and this must have its latitude or breadth, its longitude or length, its altitude or height, and its profundity or depth.”

It is the consolation of the child of God, that we have a standard of measurement placed before us when determining the direction of our walk with God. The Word of God will always be there to guide us and keep us from “over-correcting.” There will always be those who choose extremes, but God will bless the life that follows after Him and His perfect will. That the is wonderful thing about the sanctified life, it is fully surrendered to the will of God and does not let it’s own feelings get in the way of God’s way.

Recently my girls and I took an early morning walk on a beach in one of our southern states. As we walked, the surf was rolling onto the beach and with it we could feel the sand washing in and out. I was reminded of the lesson Jesus gave about the wise and foolish builders. If we build on the shifting sands of this modern day, we are doomed for failure, but if we build our values, morals and yes our standards on the Solid Rock, we will be able to withstand the storms that will surely come.

Past Articles

July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009