Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Casting off Churchianity

I recently had a conversation with a middle school student that got me to thinking about orthodoxy and orthopraxy - right beliefs and right actions, loosely defined.  We were talking about some work that I would like some of our groups at church to do.  He was saying that he could just do it himself, and I was trying to explain how that can stunt someone's spiritual growth.

For too long in the church we have read this scripture Ephesians 4:11-16 incompletely. We read verse 11 with gusto - "It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers," and we stop there. We stop because most of us can say "God didn't give me to that calling" and we move on. The problem is in the remaining verses: "12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God—a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature. 14 So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes. 15 But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. 16 From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love."

The purpose of some being called is "to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ."  For too long we have professionalized things and left these jobs that were designed for the lay people to be done by the clergy.  We are doing no favors when clergy does jobs that God has for the laity.  It stunts the spiritual growth of the laity, it doesn't build up the body of Christ as it should be, and it burns out the clergy.  This has been going on for way too long - more than 1000 years.  The good news is that it seems to be changing.

In our little tribe we have people who are volunteering to visit the sick and the shut-ins. We have people working in the nursery.  We have groups of young adults and teens looking for service opportunities in the community.  And we are working to find those opportunities so they can grow their faith.  James declared that faith without works is dead.  That is so true. We need to have our beliefs drive our actions which reinforces our beliefs which drives new actions.  It is how we grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We are committed to helping all believers achieve their God-ordained potential in Christ. Sometimes that means we don't do the easy thing and do things for them.  We have to let them work through the bumps so they can grow their faith and become the people God wants them to be.  It also means that those who have chosen to sit and do little and not fulfilling what God has for them.

Tough stuff, but good stuff.  Let's reclaim biblical Christianity and cast off Churchianity

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