The Internally Focused Church
illustration: Jackie in Boston
- There is a society problem where churches close their doors to those who need them open the most. The "Back-Pew Warmer" is more important than the hurting on the street. Where do they turn if not to us?
- Isa 58:1-12
The Hollow (Internally Focused) Church (vv. 1-5)
- Isaiah writing to the "church" of his day, the Israelites
- They had been conditioned to look internally. They were a "chosen" people. But though they may have had good intentions it did not translate well.
- Too many churches today are internally focused in a bad way. Once a church finally gains the courage to go outside the four walls it is usually with the intent to grab someone and bring them back in to the holy huddle.
- Characteristics of the Hallow Church (their appearance does not give them away)
- seem eager to know God's ways (although if they truly knew them they would rationalize a way not to respond to them).
- appear to be a fine group of righteous people and religious people and humble people
- (but the heart is the true indicator)
- their fasting was done irreverantly - as they pleased, exploiting workers
- at the end of they day they were brought to strife and quarrelling
- they are praying to a glass ceiling
The Full (Externally) Focused Church (vv. 6-12)
- The church seemed to be misinterpreting what God had intended for them.
- There are a number of churches out there today that are getting it right, they are externally focused and their joy has been made complete.
- Characteristincs of the Externally focused church:
- concerned with helping people break the bonds of sin (getting involved in their life, loving the sinner and hating the sin)
- concerned with the welfare of others (including outsiders)
- The world and the wisdom of the street are very inviting and they are quickly winning people. We cannot sit by and let them be swallowed up. We must invade peoples lives with the gospel. Look out to strengthen what is within.