Thursday, August 24, 2006

Being and Doing

Lindsay's comment on yesterday's post concerning the purpose of the church goes straight to the heart of what it's all about. He has put his finger on the primary issue when speaking of purpose - the correlation between doing and being.
There continues to be this overwhelming emphasis in the teaching that is coming forth on how to do Christianity. Books are written, seminars are held, materials are produced and sermons are preached on how to (you fill in the blank). Thus we are ingrained with the need to do.
As Lindsay has stated, we are to be bearers of his presence, to be vessels of his love, to be demonstrations of his mercy, to be reflections, clear representatives of who he is now. Here's the $64,000 question: How can we be those things without doing something?

If by "we," you mean the western church in its current form... I don't know if there's a good answer. Corporations, as entities, are creatures concerned primarily with self-preservation. Numbers. Keeping up with the other businesses. And western church is patterned after the corporate structure.

The church described in Acts was not a corporate setting; the primary focus was on feeding the poor and the needy, and taking care of orphans and widows. And that's what James states is what religion should be: Pure religion is this: take care of orphans and widows, and remain undefiled from the world. (my paraphrase).

Why does the western church put so much of an emphasis on creating a heavenly kingdom on earth? Why does it try to invade the secular world with the moral code that believers alone are called to obey? You can unsin the unsaved -- changing behavior doesn't lead to salvation. Salvation, rather, leads to a change in behavior.
ugh. typo.

you CAN'T unsin the unsaved.
Even as I was writing my comment on yesterday's "Church Purpose" post, I was considering the $64,000 question - "So how can I BE a bearer of His Presence, a vessel of His Love, a demonstration of His Mercy?" The one word answer that resonated in my heart - RELATIONSHIP. I believe God's purpose for the church originates in His heart - a heart that longs for relationship with each and every one of His creation. Fittingly, the key to fulfilling His purpose for us is to live in a moment-by-moment relationship with Him - ever sharing, ever listening, ever responding to the impulses of His Spirit. As we live in this way, we will be firsthand "witnesses" of His Presence, His Love, His Mercy - and our lives will bear witness to the reality of who He IS.
Several people have commented to me or through others to me that they are concerned that I will not get back into "ministry". I took a job at Lowes and am no longer in "full-time" ministry. My response to them has been that ministry is not what I am striving for I am just wanting to follow Jesus wherever He leads. If that means Lowes or an outreach work of the church or Africa.

It's not about doing ministry because we are to carry His presence wherever He leads, wherever He has us for that particar season or moment in time. Jesus said in Acts 1:7,8 "It is not for you to know times or seasons.... but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you shall BE my witnesses...." I don't think our concern should be so much on where should I be, although we should committ that to the Lord, or how long will I be there, but rather just being light wherever he places us for however long He has us there.
Too often we approach an issue from an either/or perspective. In dealing with the "being and doing" issue, I believe it's both/and. Because of our relationship through Christ to the Father, we allow Jesus to live his life through us in the everyday routine of life.
The being and the doing are one and the same. The Scriptures make this abundantly clear. But we too often view things from the dualistic perspective that has wreaked havoc in the church for way too long. If we are a new creation, then we can't help but love (relationship). We recognize that love is a verb, it expresses itself by doing. So love fulfills both the being and the doing.
Those that express concern that you won't get back into full-time ministry are still stuck in the unscriptural model of clergy and laity. Every believer is in full time ministry. The problem is that most believers don't know it. The important thing is that each of us are where the Lord has us at any given time, and we minister to all those he brings across our paths.
Your perspective of just wanting to follow Jesus is going to have you wherever he wants you to be. That needs to be the perspective that each of us have.
I refer to that unscriptural model as "churchianity." It's based on the inability to separate christianity from church-culture.
This is not the only blog I have visited recently where there seems to be an undercurrent of angst with "the church" - and it doesn't surprise me, for I share that angst. Honestly, there are times I actually hear myself say (usually to myself as I am driving) something I never thought I would say - - "I am tired of 'church.'" Now, in saying that, I need to be very clear - I am NOT tired of God, or Christ, or the H.S., or even God's children with whom I interact on a regular basis. I mean, I am just tired and worn out (and worn down) by the on-going, never-ending, legalistically bent culture known as "The Christian Church." In most cases, we (the church in general) are not REALLY moving ahead or making a difference in people's lives. Yeah, there are pockets of people who's lives are touched by the ministries of all of our churches... but after 2006 years, you'd think we'd have made a bit more of an impact than we have thus far. Plus - so many people are LEAVING churches - and I happen to think this is because we are not REALLY (honestly) giving them true encounters with Christ - simply a nice "God Show" on Sundays that they later go and review with each other over coffee and donuts, sending notes and emails during the week to help we who lead create a BETTER "God Show" next week - so they feel inclined to KEEP COMING BACK and GIVING THEIR MONEY...

I keep praying that one day soon, we will all start to "get it" and actually simply gather to BE the church, rather than "DO" church...
Thanks for your honesty. You have verbalized what millions of believers around the globe are experiencing.
It's not that we hate the church, rather it's the man-imposed sytem that is such a stench in our nostrils. To avoid being made sick, many are choosing to leave that which is causing the stench.
As he did in the days of his flesh, Jesus has begun the process of cleansing his temple. And, as in the days of his flesh, he is being opposed because he is causing chaos as he plucks up and breaks down to destroy and to overthrow so that he can build and plant.
It's exciting to know that he has called us to be co-laborers with him in his work.
These comments are spot-on.

I've noticed that folks are leaving churches because the churches are not full of Good News. Today's western churches are full of Bad News, and nobody tends to stick around for that.

And I'm not talking about the conviction of the Holy Spirit - believers understand that even such conviction is good news. I'm talking about the politics, the emptiness, etc.
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