being truly different

we were all sitting around one night this week talking about a ton of different stuff, and naturally as pastors our conversation turned to the church. as we discussed the future of the church in america, most of us felt good about the possibilities - if the church could stand the changes ahead and truly be what it was ment to be; here's what i mean.

many churches today - fundamental and liberal - teach a "cultural faith" - a faith based on "good old american values" like independence, democracy, being a patriotic person, faith based on the "red, white and blue" and the perceived values of the 1950's (even though most of us were not even born yet). it is a faith based on what you desire God to say, and not what God is saying - and this is on all ends, fundamentalist and liberals each procalim they have it right, and yet bot miss the point.

for example, try to start something new at a fundamentalist, or liberal, congregationalist church - it has to go before six committees and receive a vote of two-thirds the membership (regardless of if they attend church or not) before any action can be taken - where in the scripture is this model of church?

I know of people who have not set foot in a church in three years, but show-up every time there is a vote on hiring a new pastor, or giving the current pastor a raise - where is the scripture to support such an action? but denominations allow for this because by keeping membership levels up for the local church, they increase the funding to the denomination "muck-idie-mucks" - where is the scriptural support for such actions?

try to get something done in a fundamental baptist church - without the pastor's personal stamp of approval - no way - where is this a scriptural model for such an action? i know a fundamental baptist pastor who had a unwed pregnant teen kicked out of the church - while his son, the father of the child, received a church scholarship to bible college and was picked as the "youth pastor" of the church - where is the scripture to support that?

try to get something past a liberal "oldline" church (methodist, episcopal, lutheran ect) by the time it gets out of committee and by the time everyone has taken the "offensive" material out - it is so watered down it is of no use to anyone and is not recognized by the people who put the idea forward - where is this model in scripture?

over the past i have heard pastors, and other church leaders, claim that the church "is only human" and that it is "pledged with the same pains and problems found in the rest of the world" - but where is the scriptural support for such an understanding? to me, if there is no difference between the world and the church, why pick the church? if there is no difference between a follower of christ and a non-follower, why follow?

you see, i believe to claim to be a follower of christ you must change, for the better - people inside the church must be differnet, loving, open, welcoming and forgiving - but they are not. most people in church have no understanding of forgiveness - absolute forgiveness. they have replaced "forgiveness" with a concept of "good old american justice." one of my favorites is the american concept "tough love." no place in scripture are the words "tough" and "love" used together - no where. in fact, paul tells us that love is not to be tough - it is to be kind, forgiving, and open - it is always to forgive, always to accept and always to push us beyond our personal safety zone and into the danger of standing naked before the world, looking the fool - can you love like that?

you see i believe the people of the church must be different from the world around us - if not, why should anyone go to church - after all, it is not required for salvation. if the people in the church are no better then the people outside the church - why go?

1 comment:

Dan said...

Following is a post I made in reaction to yours. Hope you don't mind a friendly observation. You can find me at http://webtheology.blogspot.com/

While searching around on Google, I ran accross another blogger posting about Post Moderns. I haven't got to that post yet (though I plan to) but I did read one on the church http://ginkworld.blogspot.com/2004/06/being-truly-different.html

Much of what Punk Monkey said resonated with me. The poignant experience of injustice at the hands of the pastor reminds me of John 8 when the Pharisees brought a woman "caught in adultery" before Jesus. http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Jhn/Jhn008.html#3 Of course the obvious question is: where was her partner? Injustice should pain and anger every member of the Bobdy of Christ.

That said, however, I think there is an edge of bitterness, probably well earned, which taints the view of the church. Most see a building, an organization, or an institution. This is not what I see at all.

In my backyard, I have Marion Berry growing. If you are unfamiliar with it, it is like blackberry, but with nasty thorns all along the branches. It grows through my fence and up through some of my shrubs and trees. If one did not understand plants, it would appear as though my tree had sprouted a nasty, thorned branch. We know the truth, however. Many put up with the Marion Berry because it does yeild sweet fruit. It is not, however appealing its fruit, a part of my tree.

The true church will never be visible to human eyes, nor will it ever be free from well meaning people who substitute a relationship with knowledge or one another for a relationship with the living God. The church is a network of those who belong to YHWH and know Him through His son Jesus. (http://home.comcast.net/~webtheology/index.html - check out ecclesiology) The church is an ideal and a journey. It is struggling with the injustices and ignorance of one another which teaches us to bear with one another and to love despite horrific failures. It also teaches us how to hold one another accountable to grow beyond our humanity.