Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

Recently, a popular, seeker-driven, mega-church pastor blogged that since Christians are spirit filled, we should do things better than Apple, better than Disney and better than Google. I fear that the seeker-driven model has led many to believe this same thing. It causes us to evaluate ourselves and our churches in a very pragmatic way. Success becomes defined by how many seats we fill, how much money we receive and in everything we do being more than the culture around us. By this standard, our music should be more entertaining, our books should be better written and our church service is judged on aesthetics and cultural relevancy. I don’t believe that comparisons to Apple, Disney and Google are valid. Our standard, our measuring stick is the Word of God. We can perform better than the culture and still be unbiblical. We are never guaranteed success by the world’s standard. However, we are promised that suffering and persecution are going to come to those who follow after Jesus. I am encouraged by the pastor of the small church, and the missionary who sees few converts, but both continue to be faithful to their call. Are they failures because their results are viewed as less than those of the world? I think not. We do need to be prepared to contend for the faith. We need to give our best effort for the cause of Christ, but we are not defined by the results. God is responsible for the results of our faithfulness. God’s strength is evident in our weaknesses. Many times we are not called to be the best, but the least. My fear is that the American church is moving toward pragmatism and away from biblical fidelity.

Why should I even go to church? This seems to be a popular question nowadays. There are so many critiques of the church that lead to this question, some warranted  and some not. The church is full of hypocrites is a complaint that is not new. I would not disagree with this comment, but I don’t see this leading to avoidance of church. If we avoided every place that was full of hypocrites, we would need to quit our jobs, avoid shopping and restaurants, and pretty much anything that involves people. We would end up living in a cave, isolated from the world while trying to deny our own hypocritical behavior. The church is flawed, but so are you and I. In the end, Christ died for believers and for His bride, the church. He saves a people, the church, who are flawed. The church does itself damage when portraying itself as anything other than flawed. We are a gathering of sinners, who have been bought by the blood of Christ. We are not known by our perfection, but by the love we have for one another (John 13:35). A flawed sinful people who love and forgive one another are contrary to the world.

The church is outdated, boring and unneeded. I can be a Christian without church. The church is just a man made institution. This is just a few excuses from a list that would be a mile long. All essentially ignore Hebrews 10:25 which tells us not to forsake gathering together. I think one of the problems is how many Christians view the church. The church has become a building we come to once a week. By many Christians, the church is no longer viewed as a local body of those saved by Christ, who disciple, love, care and sacrifice for one another. Church has become little more than a religious club to many. We join clubs based on the benefits and enjoyment that they bring us. I think many unfortunately view the church in the same way. What we see as a result are people who want to be a part of the club for the benefits, without having to assume any leadership or responsibilities. When the benefits are not as expected, they leave church behind. Or when some other club (church) offers better “benefits”, they jump ship to that church. If this is your view of the church, then it is very possible for you to see church and irrelevant and unnecessary. However, when we view the church from a proper perspective, it is vital and necessary in our Christian lives.

As you have probably figured, I am extremely concerned by the lack of importance of the church portrayed by many in the church. How can we hate or even view indifferently that which Christ died for – His bride? Being invested into a local church will never be easy, and many times will be messy. However, Christ has placed us together to care for one another. Jesus gave us the mission to go and make disciples of all nations. That can not be done alone, it can only be accomplished together with the church local and universal. They is only a limited amount of discipleship that we can get on our own or through online materials. There is an investment that takes place in each others daily lives, that can not be replicated by audio or video resources. My hope and prayer is to see a new generation of believers who see the church for what it is. When we begin to love the church the way Jesus loves the church, everything changes. We are no longer looking for our benefits, but are looking at how we may benefit others. The sacrifice of our time and resources is done joyfully. We have a desire to be around other believers on days other than Sunday. All the excuses go away, and we can’t believe that we ever lived apart from other believers. The church becomes a family bonded by the blood of Christ. I know because the excuses were once mine too.

Our Last Great Hope is a good book on the Great Commission. Ronnie Floyd’s heart for this topic comes through in this book. In this book, you will see areas in your life where an urgency for the Great Commission should make a difference. Everything from our churches, to our families, to our desires, to our finances should look different if we embrace the task of the Great Commission.  As I read this book driven by an author motivated by this task, it made me examine how at truly felt about the call for Christians to reach the nations with the message of Christ.

While much of the book is not new material for someone with a passion for missions, it was a good reminder of many things we sometimes forget. However, there was one section in particular that made me think about things I had never really considered much. This would be the chapter about transforming our families. I was confronted with the fact, that in my home and in our churches, we are not doing a good job of training our children for the Great Commission. We are far too guilty of training them at being successful in chasing the American Dream. What if were more actively training our children to be future pastors and missionaries?  I came away from this book feeling encouraged, yet challenged. There is much work to be done, and my prayer is that this book will inspire people to the call placed before us. This is definitely a book that I would recommend.

 

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There is apparently a movement happening for people to be called Christ followers instead of Christians. Willow Creek Church held its Reveal Conference last week, and this was heavily pushed at the conference. Some audio is available online. I listened to John Ortberg’s session and was very disappointed. He was really pushing this Christ follower theme. He presented different tiers that people fell into in the Bible. Those who heard Jesus and rejected Him. There were also those who believed Jesus and were admirers. And then there were those who acted out all of Jesus’ commands and they were followers. He used this as a way to attack salvation by grace through faith in Jesus. He says these Christians are merely users of Jesus. Those who are believe in Jesus and follow all His teachings and practices are Christ followers. These tiers he sets up do not exist. There are 2 categories, believers and non-believers (sheep and goats). This is really nothing more than works righteousness that is being promoted. Why is it that people always want to add works to what Jesus has already done? By Mr. Orberg’s standards, no one will make it to Heaven. No one is capable of perfectly following all of Jesus’ teachings.

He also makes mention of the fact that the word Christian is only used twice in the Bible. One of those verses is 1 Peter 4:16 – but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. I guess being a Christ follower Ortberg must be better that Peter who glorified God as a Christian. These people can label themselves however they would like, but don’t try to insinuate a higher righteousness. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus and we follow Him as a result of that faith. We do not follow Him as a way to show Him how righteous we are. Salvation is not an act of obedience, but an act of faith. Faith that was granted to us by God. We need to stop inventing new labels to show that we are better than the group that used the old label. The only label I care about is the one on judgment day. Sheep or goat?