For many of us, the Christian life is all about what we can get out of it. We are usually unwilling to admit it, but we often have a selfish faith. We act as if Jesus established the Christian church so that we could have uplifting weekly meetings where we experience some inspiration and encouragement enabling us to make it through another week.
For many of us, the high point of the Christian life is a “really good meeting.” You’ve heard the comments after church. “That was a really good time with the Lord,” or “That was a really special meeting,” but does the “really good meeting” transform our lives, our communities, or our world? Is your neighborhood better because you live there? Are the streets cleaner? Are the schools in your community more effective? Is there less crime in your city because of your church? There should be.
We live in a consumerist culture. We view almost everything through this lens of consumerism. This causes us to judge the value of just about everything by what we get out of it. We spend time at the grocery story because it gives us food. We spend time at work because it gives us money. We spend time at the movie theater because it gives us entertainment. We spend time at church because it gives us a blessing. This is NOT Jesus’ vision of His church though.
When Jesus spoke of the church, it was an entity that was to be pushing back the gates of Hell. Jesus’ disciples were men on a mission, not men who wanted a blessing from Jesus. Their purpose was not to “do church” or have good meetings. Their purpose was to make a better world by bringing the Kingdom of God to earth.
We are often spiritual takers. We take the blessing for ourselves rather than giving it to the world around. Making the transition from taker to giver is difficult and painful. It requires us to challenge our notions of what the church is supposed to be. It makes us look deeply at Jesus’ intentions for His followers rather than at tradition. It requires us to abandon some ideas that we may have become attached to. If you have not lately felt the discomfort of challenging your preconceived notions of church, then it is time.
Here are a few resources to help you examine your ideas of what the Church of Jesus can look like . . .
The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay
Simply Christian by NT Wright
Missional Renaissance by Reggie McNeal
The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch