Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Disestablishing the Church

The conversation here gets a little muddier the deeper that we get into it. Yes, it's true that Jesus spent a great deal of time tearing down the religious structures of His day, the Temple culture that the Jews had lived since all the way back in Exodus when they built the first tabernacle. We could argue, perhaps, that it went even further back than that - all the way to Abraham and the sacrifice on the mountain. 

But the reason that Jesus did this was because He came to institute a better way of worship. He came to put into practice God's plan for His people. He came to fulfill the promise that rid them of the need for that Temple worship in the first place. He came to reconcile the world to God and establish the church as God intended it. 

He even said as much - I will tear down this Temple and restore it in three days. In other words, He's turning all of this to rubble to make it better - more glorious, more full, more wondrous, more holy. 

Now, here's where it gets a little trickier to keep talking like this: these activist pastors who seem to have it out for the church, these guys who tell you that they are just like Jesus...say the exact same thing

They claim that the church is failing, that it's not what God intended it to be, that God has something better for His people, that He is calling us to new ways of worship. They make the same claims against the church that Jesus made against the Temple, and they tell us that this is God's will. That God Himself has something better for us than the church. All we have to do is build it. 

At this point, you might be thinking they are right. You might be thinking they have a point. The church is, in fact, a broken institution, primarily because it is made up of fallen men and women. Who wouldn't want a more perfect assembly? Who wouldn't want to find a way to do it better?

But the line here is very thin. Because when Jesus established the church, He said not even the gates of Hell would overcome it. When Jesus established the church, He said this is the way that we're supposed to do it. When the New Testament tells us about the church, it tells us about a broken body of fallen men and women who have things to work out, but it never says that the church itself was a bad idea or that God is disappointed in it. 

To say that the church is not what God wants from us is to say that you have a better idea than Jesus did. It's to say that you have a better Promise than Jesus did. It's to say that Jesus got it wrong in building the church. 

It's to say that the entire testimony of the New Testament - from the Gospels where Jesus establishes the church through Peter, through the letters where Paul encourages the broken church, to Revelation where God writes letters to His broken churches (letters that are full of love) - is somehow wrong. Or outdated. Or broken. Or something. 

It's to say that the thing that God was doing from the very beginning of the world, the thing that Jesus accomplished in His life and ministry, isn't the plan. 

Do you see why that's a problem?  

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