Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Mark 8:34
Venite (Psalm 95)
Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your Love in the heart of your holy martyr Valentine: Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Psalter: Psalm 37:1-18
Lessons: Deuteronomy 7:6-11, Titus 1, John 1:29-34
The church is, on the one hand, a collection of sinners who, left to their own devices, would perish like everyone else. There is nothing altogether special about God's elect, aside from the fact that they have been called out of a world overflowing with sin and lawlessness, into a new life of overflowing grace and joyful obedience. So, on the other hand, the church is the fellowship of the redeemed under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. More than a mere collection of individuals, it is the Body of Christ, one people sharing "a common faith," serving one Lord, and being of one mind.
It is a uniquely modern (or post-modern) innovation to see the church as a collection of diverse individuals, each having different opinions and different experiences which, in each one's own mind, defines the faith on each one's terms. Diversity in spiritual gifts is a good thing. It builds up the body as each member contributes something which works toward unity. Diversity of opinion on matters of faith, however, is destructive and divisive. It is to be avoided.
The church is not a debating society locked in perpetual "dialogue" between members over questions of doctrine and belief which have long since been settled. There is right doctrine and there is wrong doctrine, and the two cannot co-exist in the church. Thus, Paul writes to Titus his instructions concerning the appointment of "elders in every town." As guardians of the true faith, such persons must be blameless in their life and doctrine.
The Church's One Foundation