The culture today teaches people to jettison discipline and only embrace love. However, the society’s understanding of love is flawed. Love without discipline is license, which promotes freedom without restraint. Discipline without love gives birth to legalism and aloofness and detachment from people. The society has become fragmented today because we have detached love from discipline. Therefore, we are to reconcile or combine the two concepts and virtues.
The Sovereignty of God and Human Responsibility
The sovereignty of God and human responsibility is a thread that runs through biblical revelation beginning with Genesis to Revelation. God is sovereign that means God is in absolute control. There is nothing that happens or occurs without His knowledge. God is sovereign in His power, wisdom, and knowledge. However, God gives humans responsibility to respond to His love and His mission. Therefore, there are certain things that God expect humans to do. For instance, if He wants to save people today, God does not send angels. He sends some of His servants to take the gospel of Christ to them. God gives human responsibility because without that responsibility, we would not know human freedom and love. God did not create robots in the Garden of Eden. He created humans and gave them responsibility (Genesis 1-3). The tension in God’s sovereignty and human responsibility will continue to exist until Christ returns. This tension also helps us to yield our lives to God and seek His help realizing that we cannot do anything with our own strength. However, with His strength we can accomplish everything given to us (Phil. 4:13).
Your church is being the church that Jesus Christ would be proud of. I assume some people might have left the church because you are inviting "undesirables" into the fold. That is the same problem that Jesus encountered with the Pharisees and the religious leaders of His day. Your church will thrive because the Spirit of God will bless the church. Today many churches that are exclusive are dying, whiles those who open their doors to everyone are thriving. This does not mean that you do not preach about sin or living a disciplined life. It means that you embrace the attitude of Christ in the midst of a broken society.
First, I would like to find out where the Pastor received his theological education. There is an on-going debate whether Christians are to jettison the Old Testament and embrace only the NT. However, that is just beside the point. The complete canon of Scripture includes the Old Testament. If we neglect the Old Testament, we would not be able to address the cultural, social, and political issues of our day. Many of the events of our day are similar to the events some of the Prophets of God addressed in the Old Testament. My suggestion is that a Pastor should endeavor to preach through the Bible beginning from Genesis 1.
Is the church still large today? I believe you have put your hand on one of the issues that have made many churches irrelevant and dying today. When a church becomes inward looking it ceases from being the true church of Christ. Authoritarians whose mantra is that we have done it the "same way" and we do not want to change control such churches. Churches saved us to become servers. In fact, He said that He came to serve but not to be served. He used this statement as repudiation to the disciples who were scrambling for positions and status of prominence.
Your story represents the situation that many Christians encounter in many churches. In fact, I have written about this in response to many articles. I believe that the government has become too intrusive in the lives of people because many churches have neglected their responsibilities to help the poor and needy both in and outside the church. Jesus addressed this in the Gospels. Paul, James, and John address this in their Epistles. It is an unfortunate situation. I believe that is why some churches have become irrelevant and dying today.LOVE