Jonathan Sacks is a British Rabbi who served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth until 2013. In his 2013 book, Community of Faith, he evaluates the role of the synagogue in Jewish life today. He notes early on that, “Experience had taught them that it is easier for congregations to divide and multiply than to unite.”
In attempting to bring numerous Jewish synagogues into an overall international single body, he quotes a leading Australian Rabbi as saying, “Each congregation went its own sweet way, without the slightest regard to the needs of the whole or the views of other congregations.“
Essentially Rabbi Sacks is lamenting the effects of secularization on the international Jewish community. In his opinion, in broader terms, “Religion itself had become an instrument of personal fulfillment, cultural enrichment or group cohesiveness.” I can find no reason not to apply his observations to the experiences of the Church of God.
Each of us needs to ask ourselves what it means for us to be the Church of God. The members of the Church are not immune from secular sources, as we live in the world. The trick is to not be “of it”. Is the Church to you an instrument of personal fulfillment? Group cohesiveness perhaps?
We know that the Church is not an organization. It is a spiritual organism made up of interdependent parts. This interdependence is based on a single factor – conversion!
Conversion is a state of mind. It is that state of mind that develops from repentance. Repentance produces a changed mind so that a converted person has a mind that has been totally changed. This allows the mind of God to join with the human mind. The Holy Spirit then can flow into and through that converted person and in his interdependent state, positively influences the other parts of the body (the Church). As the Apostle Paul noted, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
If the observations and experiences of Rabbi Sacks and his efforts to preserve the Jewish way of life have any relevance to the Church of God today, then the issue is conversion. Truly converted people have one mind – a mind that is connected to the mind of God. That mind does not go, “… on its own sweet way…” – which is the way a carnal mind goes.
In Romans 8:16 we read, “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Let us determine to grow more in the role of God’s children.