I have a tendency to be like a volcano. I ponder and ponder and ponder until words are formulated, then I have to express them. I’m a slow processor. Here we go…
I simply value the church. Reason? Jesus does. The church is worth fighting for.
When I was 20 and a brand new follower of Jesus, I was given a printed bible reading plan that got me through the Old Testament once a year and the New Testament and Psalms two times a year. I’m 45 years old. I’ve been through the Old Testament 25 times and the New Testament and Psalms…wait…let me do that simple math…50 times.
Don’t congratulate me. That’s baseline. I need to up my game. I’m just now starting to see connections I’ve read over by reading too quickly. Christians are to be people of the book. The theme of the “Word of God” begins in Genesis and goes all the way through. God speaks, man hears, man obeys or disobeys, blessing or curse, grace or judgment, etc.
God’s word values the people of God, the church, and that might explain why I love the church the way I do. It’s take me 25 years to fully grasp how important the church is, but I at least got here.
The New Testament shows us how that people of God are birthed into a diverse and unified and local manifestation of the kingdom of God composed of people from all nations and sent to all nations to make disciples and plant local churches.
God gave us marriage to teach us how he loves his church. That says a lot about how we should value the church. Funny…the same people who say marriage should be defended may be some of the least committed to the local church. How can that be? Not reading and making sense of the Word. Simply following the latest “superstar” Christians stardom. If you believe in marriage as God’s and God’s way of marriage, then you better be a staunch defender of the Bride of Christ, the church.
As my spiritual father Bob Roberts says, “We’ve made the church a Sunday event”. That dumbing down of the community of the kingdom of God to a consumable commodity has robbed her of her effect.
One of the reasons I’m addicted to our hard places around the world is that it’s simple and more pure and looks and smells like Acts, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians. The church is not an event for our brothers and sisters there. The church is their identity, and they function out of that identity as members of one another and ambassadors of Jesus’ mission.
Not so much here.
I believe that making the church an event to consume versus a people together and unleashed on the world has led to multiple symptoms of sickness. Can’t deal with all of them here.
One of those symptoms is the connection between social media and trendy hot button issues. A “famous” preacher says something on the Twitter and all of a sudden everybody is on board, retweeting, paining x’s on the their hands, and following their little “m” messiah around the twitterverse.
You know what? The bible teaches what we need to do as the local church not famous pastor/preachers. The fact is that many of those cats talk and write but don’t do. They may even raise money, but they don’t do. Money, frankly, is low-level buy in. Some people use money as their excuse for not actually getting their skin in the game. We need finances, but God will supply those whether it gets given or not. It’s his anyway. He’ll get it from you and others willingly or unwillingly, but he’ll resource his vision. Side note: most of the finances for or work at Restoration Rome is given from entities not associated with the church. Jesus will fund his vision from all sorts. #Fact
I love the fact that Pastor Bob taught me by doing and then teaching me how he did it. He did and he taught. Bob also did the hard stuff nobody else did. Bob still does. That’s the kind of spiritual father you want. A doer not a talker.
The church is not a product to consume. The church is not something to make your life easier. The church is Jesus’ people. Stop using the Sunday worship gathering to fill your tank, the Wednesday food and teaching to get your spiritual self fatter, and the children’s events for free babysitting. Do begin making disciples who know God’s word, hear him and obey him and are serving the church for other’s good and God’s glory among the nations. Do begin fostering and adopting children who need homes. Do love your neighbor as yourself. Don’t busy yourself with spiritual activities and have no room to give yourself away to others.
The gifts of the Spirit are not for our personal consumption and evidence of spiritual power. Rather, they are for ministering to others in the church we are covenanted to and for kingdom expansion. If you are not experiencing the gifts it may be because you are not giving yourself away…you are seeking to gather all you can rather than give away all you can.
Crazy thing? When you put out work and you put out work in covenant community, the Spirit empowers someone to serve you. When you give you actually will get. When you take, you get nothing in reality but a product that perishes as soon as something cooler comes along.
So, don’t get church things. Be the body of Christ.
We say our DNA is KDSC…Believe and preach the good news of the Kingdom. Be a Disciple who hears and obeys. Launch from your local church to engage your vocational domain of Society. From your domain make disciples and be part of planting a Church that can reach 7 billion people.
It’s that kind of church that will change the world, not the tweeting and consuming Wal-Mart church and church goer.
Some great thoughts here. One point that should be noted though, God says He will build the Church. The Church’s influence in the Western world may for now be in a decline but we should take heart that that in other regions God is adding to His Harvest.