(Angry blog rant warning)
We have it all backwards
As Christians we are called to be the church, to live as the church distinct from the world and to go out into the world to proclaim Christ.
Instead what we have is most Christians living in the world, as the world. Rather than being distinct from the world, we are virtually indistinguishable from the world. In place of going out to proclaim Christ to the world, we occasionally come out of the world to go to church and hear someone else proclaim Christ to us.
Do you see where I am going with this? Instead of “in the world but not of the world”, we are mostly of the world and occasionally we come out of the world to be the church. Even when we do that, what passes for the church is often little more than a charade, a rude facsimile of what the church should look like.
Is it any wonder there is no Spirit, no power in the church? The church is an afterthought, an add-on to the week. Even the most devout among us are only marginally less worldly than the most devout atheist. When we do make it to church, we get a mostly empty religious ceremony that doesn’t even bear a superficial resemblance to the church that the Apostle’s knew. In many ways the visible church has replaced the Jewish leadership as the promoter and defender of religious ritualism and woe to the Christian who questions the system.
We have embraced the world’s social contract of security and complacency. In trading persecution and the reviling of the world for creature comforts, we think we have won something. We think we have the “best of both worlds”. We are living a lie. We miss the best of what it means to be the church and we get a full measure of the worst of what it means to live in the world.
We live our lives by and large to earn and consume. Then we raise our kids to do the same thing, hoping that they earn more and consume more than we do and thus have a “better life”. Where is the sacrifice, where is the service, where is real ministry? Where is the sort of properly expressed joy in the church like we see here….
…and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5: 40-42, emphasis added)
They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus! Where are their cries of “Persecution!”? Why are they not getting on the phone with their lawyers or holding rallies? Why didn’t Peter’s agent get him booked on ‘Larry King Live’? How did they respond to being beaten and suffering reproach for the name of Christ? They went from house to house preaching Christ and even went to the temple, the most visible sign of Jewish religion, and did not cease to preach Jesus as the Christ.
We live our lives in safe cocoons, worried about what others will say especially what other believers will say. Just go along, keep your head down, be content living in the world. It is your vocation after all. Is it really your “vocation” or your calling, is that really how you are called to exercise your spiritual gifts: go to work to pay for stuff and go to church on Sunday to fulfill your religious obligation?
What is God calling you to do? If the answer doesn’t include persecution, suffering, bearing the cross daily I think you are looking in the wrong place for the answer to that question.
(Angry blog rant ends. Actually scratch that. Just getting started.)