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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

A converted church!

I walked up from the Strathclyde Police, 'N' Divisional H.Q. this evening.  It used to sit between two church buildings.  However, one of them was demolished, many years ago, and the site is now occupied by our local Lidl store.  The building on the other side was in use until the last minister retired, and the congregation was united with another local fellowship.  The building is now being used as the South Dalziel Studios - providing a variety of venues for concerts etc.  The banner on the railing identifies it as "the converted church"!

Of course, many of us are aware that what has been changed is a building, not a church.  The church is the people and, in its true form, doesn't even require a building.  Indeed, in many countries, such an overt display would have the authorities cracking down in no uncertain manner!  And, of course, there are those who would say (as I would) that a building that was built, and dedicated, to the glory of God, and for the worship of His Name and Person; and that is now a set of studios, may have been changed, but has certainly not been converted!

However, as they have before, the words set me thinking.  My first thought was, unsurprisingly, that the adjective is unnecessary.  The church is converted; it is comprised only of those who have been converted; an "unconverted church" is an oxymoron!   My mind raced on (I had just left the gym, after a work-out, so my body was moving at a slightly more leisurely pace!!).  There are those who seem to think that the answer to the world's ills is a major revival.  That is probably true, but they think of this in terms of multitudes of the unsaved coming to a vital relationship with the Lord Jesus - in other words, being converted.  Not true!  That is a work of regeneration - of being "born again" (see John 3:3).  Revival is a "re-lifing" - the dead, dry, bones of Ezekiel's vision (Ezek.37) being bought back to life as the Spirit of God blows over them. 

It is when the church - the people of God - is revived, that it becomes distinctive; and it is when it is distinctive that others are attracted to it!  That, I would submit, is why the church grows during times of persecution.  In those parts of the world - some fifty seperate countries - in which the disciples of Jesus are being persecuted even to death, one doesn't become a "church member" just to look "respectable" within the community.  No!  One counts the cost and, if the conversion is real, one stakes one's life on the Person of the Lord Jesus.

So, what we need in Scotland (and the rest of the so-called "western" world) is a revived church.  Then we might, no would,  see conversions - and the growth of the church as it was in New Testament times, and is in many other parts of the world today!

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