Monday, August 07, 2006

Be Positive

Howard recently invited me to participate on his blog, specifically to weigh in on The Church. I doubt he expected something so soon, but since I had a few things floating in my head I thought I would bust them out while I had the chance. What follows will probably not characterize the majority of what we share on the church but I figured it might be a good place to start.
One of my favorite Christian author’s tells a story in his book, “Blue Like Jazz”, about an interview he had on a secular radio station. During the interview he was asked to defend Christianity. He wouldn’t do it. He said, “I won’t defend that term.” He clarifies by continuing, “Of the hundreds of thousands of people listening to his show that day, some of them had terrible experiences with Christianity…to them, the term Christianity, meant something that no Christian would defend.” By the end of the radio interview, Don Miller, had this radio host confessing that he always wanted to believe that Jesus was the Son of God, but he never liked church or Christians for that matter.
There are two things, in my opinion, that stem from words like Don’s and attitudes such as the one above. One, which I believe Don is an example of, is more concerned with redeeming the term “Christianity” so that he may defend his faith in Jesus as the Son of God. If not the term, he is at least concerned about introducing people to the living God of the universe. He sees this, if you read his books, as a job for the people of God, the body of Christ, that is, The CHURCH.
The second, attitude that can stem from this approach is shame and perpetual apologizing for our religion – for the church. This is the approach I see in much of our culture today. And don’t think for a minute that it is the younger generation – please. You think the authors promoting the emergent, “so sorry if you ever felt uncomfortable in church” approach are in their twenties? Don’t think so. We have become so painfully unpopular, un-cool, and generally despised in American and European culture that we have begun to apologize for the Church.
That is why we have to remember our authority. That is why those of us who love Scripture, love God and His Son, must go to his Word; so that we may confidently define and PRACTICE authentic religion. Even if it means we will still be generally considered “un-cool”.
Therefore, it is my intention throughout the following posts to make some positive statements about God’s church. To do this I simply ask the question, “What is a Church?” There are three things I want to highlight that lead us to the beginning of an answer and today I would like to share with you the first.
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians highlights a significant aspect of the Church’s nature. Namely, A Unified Diversity. Unified by the Spirit of God, given Diverse gifts by the Spirit of God. I Cor. 3:5,
“Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.”
Further, I Cor. 12:4-6,
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all…”
I don’t know about any of you…but what I see Paul pointing out here is not only the activity of God’s Spirit but the presence of His Spirit in A COMMUNITY of believers. I realize that this is a “Christian Living” buzz-word but I think it is actually appropriate. America, even the American church has become increasingly individualistic. We can exercise at home, shop at home, have food delivered, rent movies on line and so on.
We are spiritually individualistic as well. We can listen to sermons online instead of going to church for instance. Not to mention the emphasis we place on the need for a personal, private devotion time. To be clear I think there is a need for personal devotion time. The danger I see in over-emphasizing it is our neglect for the equal if not greater need for fellowship in the community of God – The Church.
Just think about the Lord’s Prayer. The disciples ask Jesus, straight up, “Teach us how to pray.” So he answers, “Our Father in Heaven…give us day by day our daily bread…forgive us our sins and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” He uses plural pronouns, I think not only, because he is teaching multiple people at the same time but because he expects them to pray together - as a community.
These are just a few examples of many that Church is a Community, unified in their diversity by the Spirit of God. Stay time I will address what Paul refers to as the Foundation of Church. God Bless, Cory

1 comment:

Howard Fisher said...

Well, I didn't even get to introduce you. Oh well.

Your point about Christians feeling like they have to defend Christ's church all the time, as if that has converted anyone, is an excellent one.

Let's grant the world the idea that all Christians no longer sin. Would all of a sudden Don Miller be converted? Of course not.

The union between Christ and His sinful sheep is a union that the world will never understand. The world will always hate Christ, thereby extension, hate His people.

We do not need to be apologizing for the crusades or for the evils of bad Christians. The were evil men in Jesus' day infiltrating the church and there will be till the harvest of the End of the Age.

Well stated.