Blessings of a Regulated Church Life

Author Name: 

The book of Judges speaks of a time in the story of the Old Testament nation of Israel that every man did that which was right in his own eyes (Jud 17:6). This verse comes in the middle of a story that reflects the sorry state of spiritual confusion that existed at that time. The main character in the story is a man named Micah. Ironically, his name meant “who is like God.” Yet, despite his name, either through ignorance or because of deception, Micah mixed idolatry into his worship.
Today, the society we live in is not at all unlike this time from Israel’s past. The pillaging and destruction that has occurred in some of America’s cities force us to recognize that anarchy is on the rise here in America. The word anarchy comes from the Greek word anarchos which means “without authority.” It is the belief that no one has the right to tell anyone else what to do or not to do. Government and authority are not only unnecessary, but harmful to the individual. After all, there would be no crime if there were no laws or authority. Mankind could be totally free, and love and happiness could finally prevail.
This may sound somewhat attractive at first glance, perhaps, but we need only to look about us to see its harmful effects in our society. Anarchy actually produces the opposite of what it promises. Human life becomes cheap. Chaos, disrespect, and the loss of morality become its bitter fruit. We can soon instinctively grasp the foolishness of this type of belief system. But this thinking is nothing new. As already mentioned, this goes all the way back to the time of Judges and even before that. Later on, when Jeremiah warned the people to turn from their evil ways and to make their ways good, the people replied, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart (Jer 18:12).
Are we naïve enough to think that what happens in society does not affect us? It has been said that “the fads of the world rustle the curtains of the church.” We are not immune from our culture. The closer we are connected to society’s fads, thoughts, ideals, and values (or lack thereof), the greater and quicker that influence creeps into our thought processes and then into our belief systems. Have I allowed my smartphone to replace God? Am I more aware of what is happening around me in society than I am about what God expects of me and from me?
Church regulations give God’s people protection from the false concepts, beliefs, and evil deeds and influences that are increasing rapidly. Jesus prophesied that evil would increase. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold (Matt 24:12). Previous generations rejected the radio and TV partly because of their ability to propagate evil, but perhaps, just as important was to keep away the influence of the half-truths, partial gospels, faith-only, free-grace, etc. doctrines that were promoted there.
A regulated practice of dress helps to shape an identity. It is noteworthy that even the anarchists of today and the similar hippie movement of the 1960s both recognized the importance of a common dress code. Why? I spoke to an individual recently who had been part of the hippie movement. When I asked him what the significance was of their dress style, he replied, “so they could identify each other.” They wanted to know who was one of them. And they even called each other “brother!” It transmitted a shared understanding, a shared attitude, and a common belief system. After all, a group is much stronger than an individual. The writer of Ecclesiastes also recognized this fact when he wrote, Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up (Ecc 4:9-10).
A regulated church life builds common expectations and accountability. We all know the code of conduct that is expected of each other. When we visit each other’s congregations, we know what to expect. We pretty much know the order of service, the Sunday School material that will be used, and the Bible translation that will be used. We know how we are expected to be attired. And that goes for the rest of the week as well. Our mutual code of conduct is shared and recognized by everyone.
Church regulations seek to define a safe pathway for the child of God to walk in. Isaiah wrote, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left (Isa 30:21). A regulated church life can be a blessing when we allow it to guide us as we seek to walk soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (Tit 2:12). As our culture continues to degenerate, may we as the Church of Jesus Christ continue to seek protection in a safe path that the church is endeavoring to lay out. Will we find common strength together in our church life, or will we walk after our own devices and do only that which is right in our own eyes? Don’t forget dear reader, Goliath too thought he was strong enough in himself, didn’t he?