Summary: The Church has become Anemic in these days of winking at sin. The story of Achan's sin calls us to respond to sin in our congregations and our personal lives to again have the blessing of God and his power to defeat the enemy.
Sin in the Camp
I don’t know you, other than perhaps a casual meeting at one time or another.
I am not your pastor so I do not have to worry about what you may think.
I’m not a DS or GS so politics are the least of my worries.
• I am a sinner saved by grace.
• A person called by God to preach.
• Just one beggar trying to tell other beggars, where they can find bread.
This is one of the saddest and most tragic events in the early days of the conquest of the Promised Land by the children of Israel.
It not only affected one family, it affected the entire assembly.
It removed the blessing of God and allowed the people, who up to this time had enjoyed victory after victory, to be defeated by an enemy that they should have very easily conquered.
Sin had removed the real power of their success, God, from the equation.
It reminds me of a story I once heard about a Cardinal from Rome that came to visit one of the wealthiest Dioceses in the United States. After the Bishop had given him the tour through the many different churches and possessions owned by the Dioceses, he looked at the Cardinal and with joy in his voice said, “The church can no longer say ‘silver and gold have I none.’” The Cardinal turned towards him, and with a tears streaming from his eyes, he said, “Neither can it any longer say, ‘Take up thy bed nor walk.’”
My friends, after 24 years in pastoral ministry, both in the United Kingdom and the United States, I have to tell you that I am concerned about the church.
When I speak of the church I am not singling out the Church of the Nazarene, I am speaking of the Church of Jesus Christ.
It is my observation that, in the 21st century, when we have
• more resources,
• better developed ministries,
• better educated ministers,
• finer and better equipped facilities,
• and a whole plethora of other things available to us today, we are less effective in changing the world than at any other time in history.
We have more ways of communication today that ever before.
• We have access to information and people 24/7.
Very few homes or people do not have internet or smart phones which allows us to instantly access information.
And yet, we are the most anemic of power we have ever been.
As the story said, “We can no longer say silver and gold have I none.” But neither can we any longer say, “Take up thy bed and walk.”
Why is this so?
I fear the reason is that we have let sin creep into the camp and, rather than address it, we have let it fester and become an infectious disease that is causing more casualties that every infectious disease in the world.
The 21st century church needs an inoculation that will not just heal the disease, but will destroy the ever spreading plague that infects it today.
I. Achan’s Sin Affected the Whole Community
ILLUS: The Luxury Cruise liner Costa Concordia in Italy last month:
With more than 4000 people and crew on board it ran aground damaging the hull of the ship and sunk in the cold waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
A VESSEL, built for fun and frolic, to dance merrily over the waves.
Everything on board it created for a successful and delightful voyage.
The passengers are in the highest spirits, anticipating a fantastic voyage.
Suddenly a shock is felt, and terror is seen on every face.
The ship has struck on a rock.
Not only is progress arrested, but the crew and passengers now try to escape with their lives.
You will remember that one person, the ship’s Captain, failed to follow the rules.
Captain Francesco Schettino is now under arrest on suspicion of manslaughter.
He originally said the rocks were not marked on maps and were not detected by navigation systems.
Later admitted making a navigational error, and told investigators he had "ordered the turn too late" as the ship sailed close to the island.
The ship's owners, Costa Cruises, said the captain had made an "unapproved, unauthorised" deviation in course, sailing too close to the island in order to show the ship to locals. (BBC News)
All paid the price; At least 17 paid the ultimate price – their lives.
Maybe not as often as violently, but progress is arrested in many a good enterprises that seemed to be prospering.
There may be no shock, but there is a stoppage of movement.
The vital force that seemed to be carrying it on towards the desired mission declines and the work hangs fire.