Saturday, July 23, 2016

One in Jesus Christ

I write quite a bit about what makes simple church different from institutional church. Despite these critical differences, something else is even more important: our unity in Jesus Christ. By "our," I'm referring to all Christians everywhere. We are in fact one body with Jesus as our Head. He has made us so.

Even a cursory glance over the American church landscape shows us a great deal diversity within the body of Christ. We are not all alike. There is little uniformity, even within denominations. Frankly, it's difficult to find even two Christians who agree on all points of doctrine. However, that does not mean that we are not one in Christ.

We are one in Christ because God deems it so. It is what we are positionally. Christ is our leader, and we are His followers. It is our duty to live out what we are: one body. We make a terrible mistake if we consider ourselves to be mostly different from other believers (even if we hold very different views about church). A better practice is to view ourselves as mostly the same as other Christians. All believers in fact believe in the same Gospel. This unites us.

Let's do all we can to be proactive in developing unity within the body. This can certainly be a challenge since church-related views are so different. However, there is a lot of time during the week when we have opportunity to see other Christians (at least I hope you have this opportunity). Whether it be at work, in the park, or in the neighborhood, it is our responsibility and joy to edify other Christians whenever and wherever.

We are one in Jesus. Let's live out what we are. The One who bonds us is stronger and more significant than our differences.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Peculiar People Within A Peculiar People

The body of Christ is an extremely unique, rare organism. In fact, it's one of a kind.

God intends for His body to be one. All the redeemed on earth compose the family of God. Since we are redeemed, saved by God to live for Him, we are able to live according to our Creator's expectations. God desires that we live out what we are: a holy people who are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live holy lives.

Because of what God has done, we the saved are different. In fact, we are peculiar. Not only should we live differently from the world, but the world ought not to fully understand us. The world is dead in sin, with eyes blinded by Satan. This causes much of our behavior, both what we do and don't do, to seem like nonsense to them. This makes the church peculiar.

The word "peculiar" generally carries a somewhat negative connotation. However, I'm not using it in that way. Rather, I'm just suggesting that the church both does live and ought to live in a dramatically different way from how the world does.  Christ's church is a peculiar people.

The title of this post is "A Peculiar People Within A Peculiar People." What am I talking about? I'm referring to those within the church who view church life through a biblical lens. I'm talking about those of us who want the body of Christ to function like we see modeled for us in scripture. I'm writing about us weirdos who keep looking back to the bible to find out what the church ought to be. We reject tradition in the face of God's word (or at least do our best to do so).

We simple church folks are a peculiar people within a peculiar people. We are part of the larger group of peculiars (since we are part of the larger body of Christ). We are also part of a small group of peculiars. The reason for this is that we often seem odd to many of our brothers and sisters in Christ. For example, as many of you know our family meets simply at home. We do not do the worship service-expensive building-salaried pastor thing that so many Christians do. This makes us peculiar even to other believers.

The above diagram illustrates what we simple church folks often face. The large circle represents the church as a whole (the colors have no significance). The smaller circle represents those who have left the institution behind. Please let me be clear: I'm not trying to create any sort of artificial division within the body. I'm certainly not advocating it. Rather, I'm pointing out a reality that exists.

When you desire to live church life according to what God has provided in scripture, you will seem peculiar not only to the world, but also to many other followers of Christ. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a lonely road. We are a peculiar people within a peculiar people.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Done But Still Orthodox

I'm done. You may be as well.

I'm done with institutional Christianity. While I remain good friends with many who attend institutional churches, I have no need or desire for institutional trappings such as worship services, expensive buildings, and salaried pastors.

Although I'm done, I remain orthodox in my beliefs about who God is, what He has done, and what He expects of us. I believe the bible is fully and completely true.

I'm writing this particular post because many who are done with the institution are also done with orthodox beliefs. If you spend any time reading around the Christian blogosphere you will come across many claiming the name of Christ who hold some wacked-out (unbiblical) beliefs about a lot of things. It appears that a good number of folks who leave the institution do so because they don't like some of the orthodox teachings they have heard.

One big issue is homosexuality. Many Dones reject what the bible blatantly teaches on this issue (hint: it's sinful). Therefore, they have departed from the institution. Other Dones don't approve of the exclusivity of the Gospel, as if God needs to bow to these folks' politically correct desires. Still others left because they reject scriptural teachings regarding women's roles in the church.

Based on what I have read, I believe the majority of Dones have become done because they cannot stomach orthodoxy. This is extremely ironic; they are rejecting something unbiblical (the institution), but are doing so for unbiblical reasons.

I reject the institution for biblical reasons. We've been shown in scripture what the church should look like and how it ought to function. That's the church I want to be a part of. It's too bad that the church for the most part is shackled by institutional traditions.

To sum up, I'm not like the majority of the Dones. While they rejected orthodoxy, I embrace it. I hope you do as well.