Living in the Way of Jesus...

The following list is from my sermon this last Sunday at Central. We were talking about the implications of the crucifixion of Jesus and the way that it radically reshapes the way that we are called to live our lives. Here it is:

We do not live according to the ways of the kingdoms of this world, but according to the way of the Kingdom of God.

  • We reject a life of revenge and "redemptive violence" to live a life of loving our enemies. 
  • We reject a life of power for a life of humility and service. 
  • We reject a life of compulsion or coercion for people to agree with our point of view in order that we may live a life of invitation for all to enter into the Kingdom of God. 
  • We reject the idea that those who claim to run the world in fact really do. 
  • We claim a citizenship that is NOT of this world and we follow a king whose throne is not in Jerusalem or Washington but is in Heaven at the right hand of God Almighty. 
  • We reject that we find life by preserving and enriching our own, but that we are to die to ourselves in order that we may life for the sake of others. 
  • We reject that there is another way to live the life that we were created to live other than the way of the cross of Jesus Christ. 


ReThink Church

There are those in Christendom who would suggest that absolutely everything about the church in North America is broken far beyond repair and the only way to move forward is to "rethink", "reimagine", and/or "redefine" church. My first question to those who would make such a suggestion is "What do you mean by church?" Some of those who are "pioneering" new communities are really just rehashing of the old ways. It's what Alan Roxburgh calls "doing the same old things in sexy new ways". For example, some suggest that pews create an audience and performer mentality in our churches. So those communities purchase couches and chairs and sit them in a circle. The problem...one person is still speaking and everyone is only listening. Sounds to me like the same problem with a "new sexy way" of dressing it up.

But are there really things in the church that are irreversibly broken and need to be rethought, reimagined, and/or redefined? I would imagine that there are some things that would fall into that category. But I don't think they belong there simply because someone deems them to be irrelevant or culturally conditioned. Sometimes both of those judgments are contextual (a.k.a. in the eye of the beholder). However, there are a few things that I find in our churches that are needing to be rethought or reimagined because as they stand right now are in conflict with the explicit teaching of Scripture and are counterproductive or detrimental to the health of the church both locally and globally. The following are some of those areas...

Voluntary Discipleship
When we read the Gospels it becomes very clear very quickly that Jesus is not interested in people who are willing to meet him half way. In fact, he appears to show more animosity toward their "offer" than those who reject him entirely. Why? Perhaps one of the reasons that Christ is so opposed to voluntary discipleship or nominal commitment is because they can appear to be genuine. I am convinced that there is little else more damaging than someone whom Christ may or may not consider his child (in the sense of having a place in the community of believers) somehow being a representative to someone of what it means to be a Christian. So how do we move away from a voluntary discipleship model? I don't have much of an answer but it is an issue that needs to be addressed in many of our churches.

Rugged (and Respected) Individualism
The more that I read the New Testament the more that I become aware of the overwhelming tendency to focus on corporate or communal aspects of faith than the rugged individualism that has become the Baal of our nation and really of Western culture. Being able to take care of, provide for, and make a name for self is seen as the barometer of one's status or success in life. This concept has been murderous on our understanding of the church, of witness (a.k.a. evangelism), discipleship, and even our understanding of God. Trinity is anything but individualistic. God himself embodies characteristics of a community. To relegate this concept to nothing more than an understood notion is to remove an immense amount of power and strength from the community of believers.

Evangelism as the Goal/Task of Paid Professionals and Religious Extroverts
This problem is tied to the first two. But this also runs deeper than it may appear. Somehow we have forgotten that every part of our life is to be a living testimony to the God of the Universe who sent his Son to this earth in humility to live, die, and raise again victorious so that all could have an opportunity to be eternally reconciled to the Father Himself. We need to take some time to rethink what evangelism is, why we do it (hint: it has to do with the Mission of God), and how it is to be done. Forget tracts, 5 steps, 4 spiritual laws, and other gimmicks. I'm talking about living a life of humility, sacrifice, service, simplicity, and holiness that is always a testimony to the power of God in our lives as individuals and as a corporate body of believers.

What needs to be rethought where you are? Have you sought to answer any of these questions already? What answers did you come to?

It's time to rethink some things. I think I'm going to start with my heart.