I’m a Presbyterian pastor – one who is profoundly disappointed with all the energy spent on determining who’s right and who’s wrong about various issues. I’m not disputing that there is a “right” and a “wrong” – ultimately, and practically.
But. There’s ministry to be done for a hurting world, and we expend resources on railing at each other? As if we expect God’s actual truth to finally “turn on” like some kind of neon sign, and “the other side” finally “gets it”? (I’m unaware of that happening anytime during the last few thousand years or so. Anyone have news of which I should be aware?) Do we think we’ll “finally get on with the business of the church” at that point?
Our membership, all across the board, declines, and we argue amongst ourselves? Is there any chance that seems Pharisaical?
I think we’ve done so much arguing and flaying of one another, we’ve spent so much time waiting for “the switch to be flipped,” that we’ve forgotten what the actual “business” (i.e., purpose) of the church is: Being the Body of Christ.
Jesus debated with the Pharisees, yes.
† He also taught people, including teaching them to think about life from God’s point of view, not their own.
† He healed, comforted, fed, and prayed for people.
† He challenged people to make genuine sacrifices, not token sacrifices, or somewhat inconvenient ones.
“The way of a Christian is the way of Christ;
The way of Christ is the way of the cross;
The way of the cross is sacrifice.”
– Larry W. Cracraft
This is NOT News – But how many times do we need to say it before it sinks in?
We have failed in two key ways, and so we’ve set ourselves up for three huge flaws in the Christian community:
Failure #1: We have basically reserved ministry for the clergy.
Failure #2: We are, therefore, not equipping lay people to do all that they can.
the First Huge Flaw: We are not even reminding people that God lovingly but demandingly calls them as individuals to do all that they can, as their gifts enable them. Sacrificially.
That’s a communication failure guaranteed to completely disable the church.
Why? Because we lose the two genuine strengths of
1) vast numbers of “ministers,” and, therefore,
2) the wide variety of gifts and skills they possess;
the Second Huge Flaw: Because we have made it a lot less demanding to just write a check and leave ministry to the “professionals,” lay people embrace our failure as leaders to educate them that they as individuals are expected – called and equipped by God – to do “hands on” ministry themselves.
Pastors who expect, even ask, all members to accept responsibility in that regard, are probably going to lose their jobs. I know.
Right now, membership is so sparse in most places that we’re all too glad to accept the money of those still willing to give and not risk upsetting them with this business about “God wants you! Not just your money. You!”
the Third Huge – and Fatal – Flaw: When Christians don’t let God use them to reveal his grace in the lives of other people, one-on-one, they cannot experience the fullness of his joy.
If we Christians are not participating in the creation of Christ’s kingdom, in the re-creation of what God intended for the world, how can we ever experience his joy?
And if there is no joy, then why would we share any of this with anyone?
QUESTION: If there is no joy, how can there be Good News?
Why do we allow this to go on? Defeating joy is part and parcel our Social Contract – I’m okay, you’re okay.