The epic blog over at Pick Fretz’s Brain has got my ol’ noggin churning. Jamie’s post, God of Justice, got me thinking. Jesus taught us how to live. He went to tabernacles. He taught there and he also taught outside in the open air. He invited, lived among and befriended the sinners, outcasts, rejects, poor, depressed, maimed and general unlikeables in society.
There is a problem with the church today – and it is the church.
What we have created in the past two thousand years Jesus once tore down in three days and rebuilt.
We have somehow created a religion of structure visitors. We visit the structure every Sunday.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the prayers, praise, love, adoration, worship and servanthood given in that building are not real. Much of it certainly is and there is absolutely a place for what Sundays, and countless other activities surrounding the church building, represent. Christians need each other. We need teaching. We need to praise together and support together.
But the church as a physical entity and as a thing that we “do” is a misconstruction. It is something man-made, developed, just as the Jewish elite had created their system, before Jesus came on the scene, we have created our own system. And it’s an efficient, well-oiled system for what it does. But for all that it does, it has only the fraction of the impact that the true body of Christ is capable of.
I believe it’s Matthew 16:16-20, specifically verse 18, that many would point to supporting the idea of the church as a physical thing or something that we do. But always remember God’s Word is a cohesive document where all parts of scripture support and clarify all other parts. So I look for clarification on the “church” and find Paul, the main man setting up physical churches, speaking on other issues but clarifying the church:
17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Not even Paul considered the church as something built of the physical and something done by people. Ephesians 5:22-24 is also helpful.
Note how both portions of scripture clarify what the church is. The church is the body of Christ. The body of Christ consists of all those that believe on Jesus’s name.
The church upon the rock, against which the gates of hell will not prevail, is not the thing we have made the physical cornerstone of our faith.
Perhaps we have placed too much emphasis on the church as a physical thing and not enough on how Jesus taught us to live outside the walls of our tabernacles.
I love the Old Testament and it ties in perfectly. Read Isaiah 58. The great thing about God’s Word is that it is His Word and He has been saying the same thing for six thousand years. If only we would listen.
9 He said, “Go and tell this people:
” ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
We shouldn’t be like this. We can not let history repeat itself.
Many Christians have lived their lives and served in the way Jesus taught and they have gone unnoticed. Maybe that’s why we don’t get it. They’re not loud enough while others are loud enough for both.
I think I’ll just end with the entirety of Isaiah 58. God always could speak better than me.
1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.Isaiah 58