Monday, April 30, 2012

Our Church

Our Church

I came across this devotional be By Christopher J. Harris and thought I would share it today as my post.

Much of our lives are built around what we want. We drive vehicles because that’s what we wanted. We dress in ways that makes us feel better about ourselves. We eat custom ordered meals catering to our taste buds. We live in houses that are complete with all of our toys and technologies that make us feel successful. We are engaged in social media platforms in which we promote ourselves, share our opinions, and broadcast our lives. Notice the emphasis on ‘our’. It is mainly about us.

The Church (globally) was designed to be the total opposite.

The Church was not established for us or even centered on us. Quite contrary, our push, toil, and sacrifices for The Church should be much larger than our own preferences, tastes, and views.

When The Church was founded we were provided with a clear understanding of Who the focus should be on. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus announces, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (KJV)”

Have you ever noticed that Jesus didn’t say ‘our church’?

The entire structure, approach, and focus of the church would be drastically different if He would have announced, “our church”
We would:
A) Have people attend church for only what they can get out of it versus making personal sacrifices in order to reach up for Christ.
B) Have sermons that are self-seeking and self-serving versus sermons that highlight the character of God, the work of Christ, and the work of Christ in the life of each believer.
C) Have disciples of Christ focus all of their prayers on their own problems and predicaments and force their will on God versus praying in a way that allows God to dictate the conversation and impart His Will into them.
D) Have church attendees only give for tax purposes or to get bigger and better toys versus giving with a heart to see God’s kingdom and kingdom work expanded.
E) Church leaders would push their own agendas and preferences and ignore and demean those without titles versus Church leaders promoting unity and selflessness with a servants’ heart and Christ-mindset.

This would be the outcome if the statement was “our”. But Jesus was the Master Teacher. He knew what the result would be of the miscalculation of one simple word. Instead, He said, “my”. Quite simply, it is “His Church”.

The result then is that:
A) Every service is about Him.
B) Every program is about Him.
C) Every ministry is about Him.
D) Every worship experience is about Him.
E) The finances are about Him.
F) The vision is about Him.
G) The buildings are about Him.
H) The people are about Him.
Anything else is about us.

Scripture of the Day: "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." - 1 Corinthians 3:11

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Would a Christian church call Jesus for its pastor?

Would a Christian church call Jesus for its pastor?
Here is his resume.
While he never murdered, raped, robbed, accosted or otherwise committed a felony crime, he was executed as a common criminal. He never swindled, cheated or got a speeding or parking ticket as far as we know. He did break the Blue Law by working on the Sabbath to feed the hungry. He probably committed a couple of misdemeanors when he turned the tables over in the temple and withered the fig tree, and maybe even more when he drowned 2,000 pigs. But, execution? What did he do to deserve such a fate?
The religious establishment accused him of heresy and the civil authorities accused him of treason or, at least, of being a troublemaker. What did he do to deserve such judgment?
Well, he never married. He was a partygoer, seemingly never missed a good party, often with publicans and sinners. He made wine. He befriended the outcast, related to women on level grounds, helped and extolled the poor, and wanted to free the prisoners and turn the other cheek from war. He gave away his cloak. He made only 12 appointments, one of which was fraught with intrigue and conspiracy. He seemed to say the ends justify the means. His economic values included paying the same wages regardless of hours worked and a return on investments. His fellowship of believers held everything in common. He was a faith healer.
He was pretty critical of the church leaders for not doing the same, telling them they didn't have a chance of making a passing grade. He was also fairly tough on the wealthy; they, too, did not grade well.
He taught in parables so the people would listen but not understand and informed his closest companions in secret. He was very clear in his instructions to not pray in church or in public to be seen but to pray in your room with the door closed. He clearly supported separation of church and state and fidelity to both.
He walked the dusty rural roads and the cobbled city streets and addressed human needs wherever they were and that got him entangled in a host of social, political and economic issues. He was relevant. He ministered at the point where faith meets life. He tried to build a kingdom based on this model.
For doing so, the letters to the editor questioned and criticized him daily. He clearly had church, politics and the poor all jumbled up. His associations and lifestyle were questionable. He was not widely popular.
With this record, would your church call Jesus as pastor? What would happen to attendance? Contributions? Would he make so many members so mad so quickly with his theology, priorities, lifestyle and involvements that the church would be threatened?
Or, maybe, just maybe, there are churches that would call Jesus as pastor -- churches that have called pastors who model Jesus and with members who support that model. Should we seek and find and join that church and follow and support that pastor? 
Or, should we write another letter to the editor questioning the pastor's faith and the church's calling and, thereby, challenging the Jesus model?
Why not crucifixion? Would we, are we, doing it again? Surely, hopefully, not. Even so, he would love and forgive us anyway, knowing we know not what we do. That is the Jesus model.

Reprinted from an article in Sunday’s The Birmingham News . Click Here to read whole article.