Yep. I know. This is a very edgy title. Let me say at the outset that I LOVE…I mean super-duper LOVE the Church and God’s plan for it. But, what is too often represented as The Church is a system of beliefs called, “Christianity.” They are not automatically the same.
It’s been said that what has often gone on in the last several decades – in various expressions of Christianity – is like “rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic and calling it church.”
So…what is the church supposed to look like? How is she supposed to express herself?
It’s very important that I point out here that, although a Senior Pastor of The Sanctuary Revival Center in Davenport, IA, I do not consider myself an expert on the subject. I’ve been “in the ministry” for over 40 years, and I know I still understand precious little of the vast and magnificent plan and purpose of the God I am thrilled to walk and serve with.
However, I know that it’s not as complicated as religious systems of Christianity have – too often – made it. I know it’s supposed to be an expression of safety, hope, life, grace, freedom, love, joy, power….(and more). I know that it’s – too often – become more of a competitive business to build rather than a city of transformation.
I also know that systems of Christianity that carry the name “Church” have (again too many times) become an “Athens” of debate about chosen perspectives and interpretations of the Scriptures. Rightly dividing the word of truth is very important. Without it we would not enjoy what God is inviting us to experience. However, in my opinion, the word “experience” has become a scary word in too many of Christianity’s hallowed halls. All that’s left is a system of academic doctrinal preferences that are labeled “what we stand for.”
I know from a generation of years that Christianity/Church is, often, more about “appearances and reputations” than we even want to admit…unless we can dress it up in some kind of clothing that sounds spiritual and logical.
I believe that the Church is The Body of Christ and Christ doesn’t always wear Western cloths. I believe the church (His Body) touches the leper and does something – in His power – about their condition. Too much of systematized Christianity masquerading as a Church, is afraid to even touch the leper lest they become unclean. That wasn’t Jesus’ way.
I believe the Church has her roots of faith in the soil with dirt under her fingernails. <forgive the mixed metaphor>
I also believe Christ’s Body/The Church is not fixated on sins and self effort to become or maintain a right relationship with God. Sin is serious, but it’s not overcome by focusing on it. Jesus paid every last penny to abolish the guilt of sin. Focusing on sin and death (turn or burn) is not the focus of the Good News of Jesus Christ. What He has done about it IS the Good News.
Jesus, by His Spirit, is fully capable of cleaning His fish after He catches them. The fish will never be able to clean itself. We, as believers, are receivers and responders. Receiving His FREE gift and then Responding to the pulsing of His love within our hearts and minds has plenty of power to set us free from the toxic waste that keeps trying to trip us up.
The Church is about appropriating heaven in this age as well as the age to come. The religious system of Christianity, too often, gets the ticket to the age to come, but struggles to survive in this one…and too many times does little for others who are also struggling in life.
The gift of grace through Jesus Christ is ours, by faith, for more than learning how to be nice. The Church is designed to be a transformational force to be reckoned with that enjoys the journey of life.
What say you?
Sanctuary Revival Center
“Church Without Religion”