Posts Tagged ‘separateness’

The Church Christ Envisioned

“This church (the local church that each Christian should join) must look like the one that Jesus envisioned when he built the church.” (Howard Norton, longtime missionary in Brazil, in The Christian Chronicle, August 2011, available here) This quote led me to think of the following:

That is our plan. To build, be, develop, grow and belong to the church Jesus envisioned. That is one of the reasons we choose the name Church of Christ. That is why we base every decision on what Jesus and his apostles said and wrote.

And, since we base our practices completely on what is written in scripture, we have some practices that differ with the majority of churches. The conviction to follow the Bible only, completely, and absolutely has led us to teach adult baptism as opposed to baptizing infants, a capella music for worship as opposed to any mechanical instruments, and congregational autonomy as opposed to organization in synods, dioceses, etc.

We look strange to some, but the church looked strange to those who saw her first built, too. The breakaway from Old Covenant ritual and the avoidance of societal habits estranged the early Christians from other religious folks. Note that Peter called them strangers, foreigners, aliens (1 Peter 1:1, 2:11).

Not that we are different just for the sake of being different. But because we do not allow the world around us to change our allegiance to what the Bible dictates, we will continue to look strange. Let’s just make every effort to have that look mirror the vision Christ had when he built his church.

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Jesus and Slavery

I was reminded this morning that many have criticized Jesus because he did not confront the institution of slavery during his lifetime or through the leaders of the early church. Undoubtedly Jesus knew that a myriad of evils were associated with slavery, yet he found himself focused on another subject. So he never said anything about slavery.

In view of Jesus’ silence on slavery, it is interesting how the inspired writers of the New Testament treated the subject. Mostly I find it interesting because modern religion has chosen to treat it much differently. Modern religion has decided to be the driving force of social change and slavery is one of the issues they feel must be addressed.

Jesus and the writers of the New Testament did not see the church as the catalyst of social change. They instead saw the church as a separate and vastly different society where people could relate to one another in God defined ways no matter how society defined their role. The church is designed as a place where the slave knows freedom and the master learns servitude. The church is a place where the weak find strength and the strong confess weakness. The church is the place where all are equal in hope, in need, in love, and in requirement, no matter what the world says about them.

It would be grand indeed if all the world accepted every person with equal rights and privileges. There would be no ownership of human beings. There would be no discrimination in hiring or housing. There would be no deceptive business practices.

Some of these problems have lessened and it is greatly due to the example given by the church. But we are not going to completely eradicate these diseases by campaigning in the social arena. As long as there are people that won’t join God’s family and strive for perfect living, these blights will remain.

We must continue to provide a place where none of those things exist. Jesus did not die to create a perfect earth. He died to create sinless people. The gathering of those sinless people is the church.* It is there that we can show the world what is the proper way to live. It is there that pure love can be practiced. People will think we are strange; so much so that the apostle Peter declared us aliens in the world!**

Jesus taught people how to be a part of that new society, how to find peace of mind, joy of living, and freedom of heart. They could have all of those blessings even while they were slaves. We can have all of these blessings even while we suffer from illness, deal with poverty, or whatever other of the evil human conditions you find yourself in. If Jesus had attacked evil social institutions, we would feel that they were the cause of our unrest. It’s not what others do to us. It’s not our physical or social circumstances that cause our emotional turmoil. It’s the absence of God due to our own sins.

That can be changed. We can be so high that nothing in this world can bring us down (Romans 8:35-39; 2nd Corinthians 4:6-10). I do pray for evil to be stopped. But so much more I pray we can know God’s joy in spite of this evil world.

Footnotes:_____________________________________

*Sinless only because Jesus’ blood washes us clean.
Those washed clean (saved) are added to the church by God (Acts 2:47) and are expected to continue in fellowship with each other (1st Corinthians 1:10; Ephesians 2:14, 19, 4:2-3; Hebrews 10:24).

**1st Peter 2:11, NIV; King James says “strangers and pilgrims”