TIME FOR REFORMATION
Last time, Tim explored the notion that the institutional ‘Body of Christ’ has somehow lost its connection to the Head and needs to reform. Today, he’ll delve deeper into that and explore why he can make such an apparently preposterous statement. Stay open minded reader….
So, what exactly is churchianity? How do we to identify its issues? To avoid unnecessary offence, I would want to make a clear distinction between those who ‘do church’ as ‘a means to an end’, and those who ‘do church’* as ‘an end in itself’, whether intentionally or not. One methodology is a sign that points us elsewhere, the other ends up as the destination! (*when I say ‘do church’, I refer to a gathering, meeting or set of programs that require us to commit ourselves to their repeat practice alone, typically by personal attendance).
Let me say it another way. I do not believe for one moment that Jesus promoted His Bride above Himself as ‘the hope of the world’. I find that one very hard to swallow, and exceptionally deceptive.
We must be clear here. ‘Churchianity’ is a term that defines a system that can and does operate without Christ, ie, it does not DEPEND on Him, He is not foundational to it, for the system sustains itself, rather like how we might define an institution.
When a person initially enters the realms of churchianity, the innocent victim has no idea what is about to befall them. We initially attend a meeting of some sort, all for a variety of different reasons, and we’re invited into a relationship of sorts whether intentionally or subliminally.
This is fine, for who does not want to connect, to belong or to join a community of some kind? It’s in our human nature to herd. It’s instinctive.
But it’s the nature of this ‘joining’ that concerns me. What are we asking people to join, and how early do we make this expressly clear? We should be wooing people into a relationship with Christ right from the start, a supernatural experiential reality where a person’s life is utterly transformed, revolutionised; where their life is no more as it has been voluntarily given over, lost, and a divine exchange takes places where HE becomes the centre of that person’s life, communion and focus.
This requires what we can call ‘spiritual fertility’. Christianity is remarkable here. It has an incredibly fertile Founder, or foundation. He is, The Bible tells us, the source of all life.
Without this, where HE is absent, we are by definition sterile, and in the very dense fog of religious infertility, the sperm of churchianity is released to find its home in the souls of men and women.
The enemy is one clever cuckoo!
But where HE is truly resident, present, and Regent, He reproduces Himself in us as His disciples, and in ‘us’ as His community.
He therefore becomes the centre of ‘our’ community. We belong to Him primarily, and then to one-another. And this communion does not end on the outskirts of our locality, it transcends natural borders, tribalism or exclusivity.
I think that’s the church He said He would build.
That is The Kingdom of God. This is Christianity
Christ is the focus, and a new life begins where a connection (or commitment of sorts) develops over time that requires less and less programming or organising, and comes to depend more and more exclusively on an organic, dynamic and very real relationship between The King and His bride (you and me).
Relationships do not need programs. Programs need programs.
Someone once said, “what we draw people WITH we draw them TO”. Brilliant! The bait we use at birth determines the appetite for life. Choose very wisely!
But sadly, this is not the reality in ‘churchianity’. We draw people to attend a meeting, most often with very good intention, to commit to a program, to be loyal to a group of people or leader(s), and whilst it is possible for some to still eventually be found by Jesus in this intrinsically sterile system (hopefully many of you reading this now), it is not automatic and it is my very sad but genuine observation that it is not the norm for many.
How utterly horrific it is to observe that the very thing intended to draw people to Jesus (i.e. His ekklesia) could have been tampered with to actually inoculate them against Him. How ingenious!
Multitudes have been sucked into a life of religious activities. They get stuck there too.
So many have been offered promises of eternal life by attending a meeting, or a congregation, yet the reality of knowing Christ Jesus has been obscured from them in the process.
Most are sucked into a life of attending a congregation, though modern culture has allowed consumerism to join the panel, so we can re-phrase that to many are drawn into a life of attending many congregations, as one menu becomes less satisfying than another.
That is not a life. It is a sentence, unless we’re following Jesus, know His commitment to us and have found a communion with others on the very same journey.
‘Who do people say I am?’
So, you can be ‘in Christ’ and ‘in churchianity’, but please don’t assume that one automatically connects you to the other!
They both have a baptism, they each have a circumcision, but only one has need of a confessionof true faith.
“Who do people say I am?”, asked Jesus. The echo of these words still require a response.
But there is still hope. Christ still offers Himself to the world in which we find ourselves. We all have a choice of what we choose to join our hearts to, and what we choose to dispense as communities or congregations.
We all have choices to make. My prayer is that the Church of the Black Country chooses very wisely indeed.
On behalf of Love Black Country.