It should always be kept in mind that the Church is a divine family and that its loyalties sometimes cut sharply across the ties that bind earthly families together.
The cross is a sword and often separates friends and divides households. The idea that Christ always brings peace and patches up differences is found nowhere in His own teachings. Quite the contrary is true. For a man to cast in his lot with Christ often means that he will be opposed by his blood relatives and will find his true family ties only in the community of regenerated souls.
Surely it is a most desirable thing to be reared in a Christian home. When a young man or woman is thus happily situated, conversion to Christ brings no rift to the family circle but rather seals and cements the earthly ties. We see sometimes whole families from the aged grandparents to the youngest child all joyously serving the Lord, and hardly anything under the sun could be more delightful. But it is not often so. More often the presence of a true Christian in the home, if it does not actually divide, does at least bring a serious divergence of interest and puts a real strain upon the solidarity of the household.
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. . . People in the rut never know when the last leaves are falling for them. Why are people in the rut" There are several possibilities. They may never have been truly converted at all, and this is one of our great problems now. We have a dozen ways of getting people into the kingdom of God, when the Lord said there was only one. They leak in, ooze in, come in by osmosis and get in by marriage—just get in by any kind of way. But there is only one true way. When people find that after being in the church for years they are not making much progress, they ought to examine themselves and wonder whether they have been truly converted. True conversion means radical repentance, a changed life, conscious forgiveness of sin and a spiritual rebirth. Genuinely converted people, as the old Methodists said, had a radical repentance, which eventuated in a changed life. Then there came a consciousness of forgiveness of sins and a spiritual rebirth. People in the rut may never have had that at all. . . . People in the circular grave, who are getting older without getting holier, may have been abandoned to the devil because of two things—some fleshly sins (1 Corinthians 5) or grave irreverence at the communion table (1 Corinthians 11). Protestants are altogether too much inclined to take things for granted. We laugh at those on the other side of the ecclesiastical fence because they bow and scrape and kowtow in the presence of the church. But we lack reverence—not because we are free in the gospel, but because God is absent, and we have no sense of His presence. We sometimes come to the communion table in a moral and spiritual state totally unfit for receiving communion, and yet we take it. Paul said, "We are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world."
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