God’s into plumblines …
Honor in God’s Kingdom comes not from fame, fortune or followers …
But being faithful.
Church in the New Testament …
Had nothing to do with sitting in pews.
Paul of Tarsus:
Lashed, left for dead, shipwrecked, jailed, scorned, abandoned, tried, beheaded.
I guess he never heard about “Your Best Life Now.”
I may have an ability or perspective that you lack.
But I have yet to meet anyone – and I mean anyone – who does not also exceed me in some aspect of their own abilities and perspectives.
Likewise, no church, ministry or movement will be healthy if it pulls into itself or thinks itself beyond everyone else.
This is true also with our different sub-cultures, theological “tribes”, and the often unexamined presumptions and sensibilities of our own community of like-minded friends.
Unity in diversity through humility, not uniformity through hierarchy, is God’s intent among those who love Him and heed His Word.
Although we all love the “glory stories”, we also need to tell of our failures …
Because it’s our failures which often teach the most.
The narrow gate is wide enough for each who travels through …
But not enough to also carry all their baggage too.
It’s hard to share Christ together …
When we aren’t sharing life together.
Christianity in Western cultures has lost sight of God’s fierceness …
Wanting instead only His comfort and affirmation.
By defining God’s attributes by our own standards, however …
We’ve lost the ability to be effective salt and light to not just to individuals but to whole societies and nations.
I routinely ask men I mentored in the jail, who give their lives to the Lord there, why it’s so hard for them to become part of a church when they get out.
I then follow up by asking whether, after being released, they were ever invited into someone’s home for a meal and fellowship from any church they visited.
The answer? Never.
I’ve asked this hundreds of times, not just of men trying to put their lives back together after jail, but also of others living in the woods or in homeless shelters.
The answer is always the same.
In twenty years, I’ve seen no exceptions.
We all love arms-length “ministries” and “programs” that make us feel good about helping “those people”, so long as it’s not too close and personal.
I guess most “churches” are look-alike religious social clubs for cookie-cutter “believers” rather than real Christian communities.
In the meantime, our house remains a place of hospitality, friendship and fellowship …
And our lives continue to be enriched beyond measure because of it.
Many want God to forgive them …
Few to define them.
I tire of all the “new things”, hip new labels and conference extravaganzas – peddled through the latest amazing book, ministry, “revelation” or program.
Just go and do what Jesus commands, as He calls you to do it.
When you do, it will look different in different people, cultures and places …
Than it does in some hot new book or conference someone’s trying to promote.
“Missional”, “Christocentric”, “Neo-Evangelical”, “Eternal Purpose”, and even “Organic”:
Once they brand God and His purposes with some new label and convince everyone to hop on board …
It’s likely already so saddled with egos and extraneous agendas that it’s veered off track.
Learn to discern what’s good and eternal …
And leave the rest behind.
The greatest obstacle to faith is not doubt …
But our own comfort zones.
We need more elders sharing lives among us …
And less “preachers” on podiums above us.
Unfortunately, few are willing to give up the recognition and privileges of the latter …
For the humility and sacrifices of the former.
Existentialism is a philosophy which claims that our own perceptions are the ultimate criteria for detetmining what is true, real and right.
As such, it rejects external, transcendent standards of truth, reality and morality in lieu of individual subjectivity.
Thus, for example, so-called existential “Christians” dismiss God’s plenary authority of Scripture as His authentic, external written word.
For them, how they feel or react when reading Scripture is higher revelation – and ultimately more authoritative – than Scripture itself.
But they are crafty folk, and rationalize their subjective perceptions by calling them “Christ” or otherwise trying to recreate Him in their own image …
As though Christ and His written Word are at odds and stand divided.
Regardless, their muddled philosophy dares to judge God and filter Scripture through their own individualistic sensibilities …
And leaves them stuck with themselves.
They are, in a word, fools …
Peddling deception to other fools who pay them heed.
God doesn’t define sin to condemn us but to warn us about what harms and destroys …
Because He loves us enough to want us to have abundant life.
When we reject that …
We condemn ourselves.
Faith is trust:
Expressed not in how we feel …
But how we act.
“Church” too often means expecting others to fit our own molds, in order to support the sensibilities and biases of our own cultural perspectives.
In contrast, I have learned to allow “church” to emerge in all its splendid diversity by letting the life of Christ take root in the rich soil of different cultures and communities.
Could that be why the Great Commission says “go”, rather than “come”?
God’s authoritative Word is not some fleeting inspiration you feel when reading the Bible …
But the Bible itself as His external standard given for all.
It takes great hubris to claim otherwise …
By those who elevate their own subjective perceptions over the eternal, God breathed words of Scripture.
False prophets will tickle your ear …
While true prophets speak what you don’t want to hear.
What about those who peddle an appealing Christ of their own perception through enticing books, blogs, seminars and posts …
While dismissing His plenary authority of Scripture as His written Word?
It’s not that they’re always wrong.
After all, even broken clocks are right twice a day …
But only fools would try to use ’em to tell time.
Slowly but surely, God is shifting the paradigm of church and leadership.
It is becoming organic, simple and participatory, with healthy fellowships beginning to emerge.
All I can say is forget the buzz words by past advocates like Viola, Dale, Zens, Rodriguez, Giles, Rohde and their buddies …
With their failed attempts to impose their own existential, cookie-cutter visions of Christ and the Church on God’s people through books and blogs that never lined up with reality in their own lives and home towns.
Instead, go and let the Lord express Himself as He sees fit, building on the foundation already apostolically laid through Scripture as His authoritative written Word, in the unique context of diverse communities …
Where He still sends us today to make disciples among the lost and redeem nations.
That, my friends, is real “organic” church and leadership.
In Hebrews 13:17, some translations tell us to “obey” those who “rule over” us in the church. This is a very unfortunate translation.
In the Greek, the verb translated “obey” is in the middle voice and means to “be persuaded”. Yet it is often wrongly translated in the active voice as “obey”, which has an entirely different meaning.
The verb phrase “rule over” also is a misleading translation.
In the Greek, it does not mean having authority or being “over” anyone, but rather earned esteem by those who have given thought to and walked farther along the same path.
If they can’t persuade or earn your respect by having actually thought through and lived what they’re saying, then we are under no obligation to accord them any influence in our lives.
There is NO command in the New Testament to blindly obey or follow anyone – and no mandate for authoritarianism, “cover” or control over others – in the church.
Church leadership in the New Testament is straightforward:
Be persuaded by those who thoughtfully walk the walk and are further along in their faith and life experience, yielding to their example as we submit one to another.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Often, longstanding hurts, disappointments and emotional wounds are like old, familiar friends.
We let them become so engrained into our sense of identity that they begin to define us.
When that happens, we often aren’t willing to transparently expose and turn them them over to Jesus …
But tightly hold onto them like a child clinging to a security blanket.
Instead of finding liberation and wholeness through Christ, we become our past.