Wednesday, April 25, 2007

God or man maintaining the Church?

God or man maintaining the Church?

In one of the comments recently Jim Bublitz stated speaking of me:

“I think that he and I are actually waging two different wars (so to speak). He wants to keep 'watchblogs' from judging him and his Emerging Church friends, but what's been on the top of my mind has been a church's ability to conduct church discipline, and to maintain the purity of the church. For if we were to believe much of what comes from this pastor's blog about judging, it would have major ramifications for churches and pastors everywhere.” ~ Jim Bublitz

Interesting that Jim Bublitz has stated this as I think this is one of the core misconceptions of the emerging church. First off, what is the definition of “church”? Is it a building, a group of people, a community, or as I believe the literal Body of Christ Jesus Himself?

So I turn to the Bible as to where I get my answer… Ephesians 1:22-23 states clearly what, or rather who the Church is:

“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

Some seem fixated on keeping the church, the Body of Christ a lifeless institution… and I admit fully that in some aspects there must be a bit of “institution” in it to have structure to operate. Yet, saying that, it seems that some have taken the backbone “structure” that is the framework and made it into a type of exoskeleton. In other words we have become like a turtle that has a hard shell on the outside and seems that if we get scared we pull inward to separate from the world.

This is totally contrary to the church of scripture that is told to go. In a small way a “church” is those that gather in a certain city. Yet, the big picture is that the Church as a whole that is in Christ and makes up His Body and many parts is at work and is to be on the “go”. We are to go to all the nations… (Matthew 28:19-20)

In that if the framework is the backbone which enables us to become more mobile than the turtle I think we can then do as Jesus commanded… In that framework is the administrational part of the Body… but it is not the Body in its totality.

We are then made up of many parts… and to me this is the crux of the issue. It seems we have become a people of parts that have separated instead of unified into One Body. In the past we see all the “tongues” in one church, all the Bereans in another, and so on with each part being specialized and functioning as if it was whole in and of itself.

What is happening now is that many different denominations have lowered the walls to look at the authentic and reality we find in Christ and focus on our fittings together…and honestly at this point it is a mess… one glorious and wonderful mess as some who thought they were feet find they are fingers, and some that thought themselves to be ears are seeing they are really hands… and so on… we are fitting together… sometimes with mistakes, yet in that most are expressing a gracious attitude…. Yet, some want to not change anything as it is not “in order”.

In physics there is a pull to unity in a thing. All the material that makes something finds that it has a place and job to do for that object to be as it should… yet, sometimes within that consistency there is an anomaly that seems out of place… and yet within it there is structure and order… and then a possible anomaly… and so on… this is a type of “chaos theory” that plays out in God’s creation… and if we would let God do His job, and that is transforming us… each one being that anomaly within this fallen world we will find in ourselves order that is of divine origin… God creates order out of chaos… and we need to have chaos in order to have God create out of it. In that comes God’s discipline.

Discipline is often misunderstood…some see it as just a rigid structure in order to beat ones body into submission, or that one must maintain a consistent type of structure in order to please God… now get this…

WE CAN DO NOTHING FROM HUMAN ORIGIN AND WORKS THAT PLEASE GOD… so if we think that the “disciplines”, reading the bible, prayer, journaling and such will make us more godly and more pleasing to God we are deceiving ourselves. God is only pleased by what His Son has done… and is doing. "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17) is what God said of Jesus and it is through Jesus we become sons of God.

Galatians 3: 26-27. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

We were placed into Jesus and are clothed by Jesus… God only sees Jesus and His works and none of ours. We are saved by Grace through Faith… As in Ephesians 2:4-5

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.”

It is God Who makes us alive with Christ even when we only deserve the wages of sin… being death! We are alive… as we were once dead.

If one still thinks he can add one thing to his salvation… then understand this…

Romans 5: 17. “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.”

All of our righteousness is through the one man, Jesus Christ. We have no righteousness of and in ourselves… if we did then God would be a liar. Romans 3:4 Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: "So that you (God) may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge."

Now here is the thing that pulls this all together. All men are liars… to others to themselves… we lie that we are good, or worthy or pure… and in and of ourselves we are not… it is only in Christ we any of these things and only because we are placed in Christ’s Body… the church. The ramification is this… God disciplines us and that is not just in the sense of punishment…. Rather it is in the sense a basketball player who runs the bleachers. The athlete in training does not do it because he loves the training... He perseveres the training because he loves the game… likewise we persevere the training of God because we love God…

Jesus persevered and learned obedience even unto death… Hebrews 5: 7-9

“During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

Notice Jesus offered prayers and petition to the Father to save him from death. Often we think of Jesus boldly going ahead and dying in some sort of self sacrifice without any mind to himself… yet He did have a mind of Himself yet still persevered through it. Jesus was tempted as we are… Yet, God desired that Jesus, being His Son learn obedience… this should twist some’s theology to the limits… but it is there in Hebrews… deny it if you want. Jesus suffered to learn obedience and in that was made perfect… I state this sometimes and people get offended… thinking I am saying that Jesus was not perfect here on earth… I am not saying that. I am saying though perfect He was not tested in His perfection until His death and in that was raised to life…

We must be like Christ and submit to God’s discipline that we too learn obedience unto death… yet our death is now in Christ and our Life is also.

To think one of us can bring this discipline our effort is taking it from God’s hands… it is thinking that by human effort we can obtain the lessons that are of God and God alone. Being mere humans we cannot know God until we too are perfected in Christ.


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