Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Striking Out

In taking the stance that Christianity is an intimate personal decision that one must make in favor of Christ in order to gain the benefit of His sacrifice for the eternity of not going to Hell, the church has not only created a generation of Christians who believe their faith is a private matter, but she has created a generation of Christians who believe they have no need of the church.

After all, if the mission of the church is to convert and I am already converted, then what am I "wasting" my Sunday mornings in this sanctuary for? This is even more true for those who further believe it is not their "job" or their "interest" or their "calling" or their "gift" to call others to Christ. 

Hey, man, in this world where we have to make our own decision for Christ, you can't just force that Christ on someone else. They have to find Him on their own.

And this is where we started building a culture of "church shopping."

A couple of generations ago, this idea was unimaginable in the church. The church was your people because it was God's people; it was your place because it was God's place. Having accepted God's sacrifice for your life, you gave it right back to Him and joined the community of His people - a community that is an extension of literally everything God says about His people in the Bible, a people He always calls a "ya'll." (Never a "you.") 

Today, the church probably isn't your people. Because it's not a community. It's a "house of worship" or, in some cases, a "Jesus shop." Church is where you go when you're missing something or looking for something or think there might be something there for you, and the persons that you find there in the church are either 1) there for the sake of providing the service of religion that will fill your need or 2) coincidental shoppers in the same Jesus store. For the same reason that the cashier at the local super-mart is not your community, and neither are the persons who stand in the checkout line with you, the church is not your community, either. It just is. You take it when you need it, and when you don't, you're gone - out in search of other things.

Did you know that overwhelmingly in the New Testament, "Christians" is a plural word? There's not a lot of talk about "a Christian," as though that was something you could be all on your own. There's much more talk about "Christians" (or in the case of the singular, "one of those Christians"), a community of believers that was growing and expanding and springing up all over the realm, not because the number of individual believers was increasing but because the number of fellowships was. Men and women, young and old were coming to Christ and joining up with one another. They weren't striking out on their own.

And maybe you're one of those that says, hey, I don't "need" the church. Maybe you say the church doesn't "feed" you. Maybe you think it's enough that you just read your Bible and love Jesus. Sorry. That's not the way this works. That's not the way this has ever worked. You're not a community all by yourself. You're not a community if you're just spending your time around other persons and not sharing something fundamental with them. You're not a community if it's something that's merely "convenient" for you or something that "sounds good." 

That's why you need the church. The church is the community. It's not a Jesus shop or a house of worship or an on-call prayer service; it's a community, and a vital one. If you're not a part of it - a legitimate, connected, wholly-in, authentically in, committed part of it, you're missing something not only incredible, but important. 

Because the community of Christ is fundamental to the essence of Christianity. It always has been, and it always will be. 

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