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Believe Me / Don’t Believe Me 3

June 23, 2006

“Yes, I see the Church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I believe that church is essential. It is the bride of Jesus and belongs to him. All Christians are meant to live within a community to experience him within and among that community.

As I type that I am thinking about Saul / Paul’s conversion (which I have been studying lately) and wonder about his disappearance for a few years. I assume he was alone. Many scholars think He went to Mt. Sinai. Anyway…

I believe that the normal intention is NOT to go it alone. Community is essential to our walk of faith.

I believe one of the blessings of my spiritual heritage in the Church of Christ and the American Restoration Movement, which I am glad I have a deep family history within, is that I don’t like denominational thinking. To the extent a church is a sect or denomination, I stand against that way of thinking. I am strongly anti (not just non) denominational. This way of thinking leads away from unity not towards it. It seeks to draw differences and borders. Too many people protect their turf that way.

Church in its original language and understanding was a common word for a group that met for a purpose. In this sense a meeting for the purpose of what? It is Jesus’ church. It meets to teach and edify one another. But to what end? I believe it is to encourage each other to good deeds. A part of the Gospel often left out. We are saved to make us right with God (YES) but also to do good works, that is to make the world a better place.

We are to help each other become more and more like the one we belong to.

There are obviously other things about the church. If interested in what I think about the directions the Church should have read here.

I want to be clear that I am not anti-church. I am against any teaching that places a group, traditions or a way of doing things above Jesus. Our love must be first and primarily for him. My struggles with the ways that the church is “blemished and scared” is out of a deep love. Love that wants the church to be better. Love that wants it to be relevant and powerful.

His kingdom is real and it is advancing.

But don’t believe me.

Jesus’ favorite subject was the kingdom. One of the group we normally put up as the bad guys came to him in Mark 12 and this guy got it. He saw that utmost importance was love of God and others. Jesus said he was about to break into the kingdom, God’s will being done.

Mark 12:28-34

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” 32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2006 12:13 am

    Praise God that the kingdom is advancing.
    God is at work in His kingdom.
    I enjoyed reading your posts on believe me, dont believe me.
    I enjoyed reading your blog.
    Lookforward to reading more.

  2. June 26, 2006 3:26 pm

    For so long we taught that the church and the Kingdom were the same thing. The Kingdom rule and reign in our lives and over the world in which we live. The Kingdom gives us the BIG picture.

  3. June 27, 2006 12:27 pm

    Hey, Tommy –

    I’ve got to tell you, this is just the very best series you’ve written and so well done. You know we were gone for several days and I got to read this latest post late Sunday night but haven’t had a chance to comment till today, so I apologize for that.

    But, this is outstanding and it’s very obvious to us all (and especially to me) that you have put a lot of thought and study and prayer into it – and (even though you deny it) a lot (at least a good bit) of editing.

    Good work, Tommy. The best yet. Now you’ve really raised the bar!

    Hope you’re having a good day and good week so far.

    Cheers! Dee

  4. June 27, 2006 12:48 pm

    May I just ask a stupid question?

    no, that was not the stupid question…

    At what point did all of our traditions start? When did 3 songs and a prayer become universal? I was at a church recently and heard all the same words being spoken (guard, guide and direct… and …as we stand and sing)

    Is it just inate? Are we born with that? How did somebody start all that and what made it stick?

    I know that at times I’ve seen things that weren’t wrong, I was just uncomfortable. In time, I grew comfortable. How, other than living in the word, will we know what’s tradition and what’s church?

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