In a time that Josh McDowell calls, “The Last Generation of Christians” how do we reclaim the world for what it is, God’s? It all starts in one place. You may have guessed it from the title.
What is the church? I think the better question is, what should the church be. In today’s society the church is the place where Christians go to “get fed” or to “experience community”. I have been struggling with this for a long time. In fact, this has become my heart’s passion. To find the perfect church.
Many people believe that the perfect church can not be accomplished. Perfection is something we long for, but can never really be achieved. A common misconception is that God is the only thing perfect and nothing else can be. I don’t think any church will ever be exact, without fault or error, but it can be “perfect”.
Let me be clear.
Perfect is simply being as God intended to be. In 2 Samuel it says, “God’s ways are perfect…”. Its overwhelming, when you look at the times in the Bible that the word perfect is used its mostly referring to the will or plan of God, not God himself, but God’s ways or intentions. In Matthew 48 it says, “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” Matthew knows that no person is flawless, or without error. We all fall short and sin. He is saying we are all to be as God intended us to be.
So get that notion out of your head. Things can be perfect in fact in Genesis 6:9 Noah was referred to as perfect in many translations. Not because he was sinless, or flawless, but because he “walked with God”. We can be perfect. The Church can be perfect. Perfection is a goal that can be reached and it should be our goal. To be as God intended us to be.
So what did God intend for the church? That’s where it gets a little harder. I guess the best thing to do is look at “The Church of Jesus”. No its not a new denomination. I’m referring to the first church. The church that Jesus himself lead. I would think that sense Jesus was fully God that the church he started would be exactly as God intended, correct?
Lets start off with the first objection. Churches didn’t exist during Jesus time. He was a teacher, not a pastor or leader of a church. Sorry to be so blunt, but if you think what Jesus did wasn’t start a church, you are wrong. Jesus spent his adult life teaching the disciples so they could be prepared to go out and make new disciples and so on. Is that not what The Church is? The Great Commission was the first “mission statement”. Jesus sending his Church out into the world to start more Churches.
Lets go ahead and get another thing out of the way. The Church is God’s Bride. So if I refer to The Church as “she” it is not me being politically correct. It is reclaiming the image of The Church from the Bible. She is God’s Bride.
Now that we got that out of the way, lets take a break.
I have had this idea for the last several years. It all started when I went through a depression in my life. The more I read the Bible searching for a cure for my depression, the more angry I became. It was if my efforts to understand what the Bible was telling me was bringing more questions and not solving the problem I had. I struggled for months with the idea that I was becoming angry with God.
My brain was telling me something like this…Why won’t He answer me? How could I be angry with God? I must be a terrible person to question Him. I don’t get angry over anything, but I am pissed off at God…that just doesn’t make any sense. I must really be depressed.
For most of you who know me, you know that I don’t get angry. I am a very laid back guy except when it comes to sports and politics. I don’t rattle easily and I DON’T GET UPSET WITH ANYONE. So for me to be angry at the person who is love, the person that created me, blessed me, and was allowing me to live, just didn’t make sense to me.
It wasn’t until I actually expressed my anger to God that I started realizing that this was his purpose all along. He was teaching me not to accept what I had been taught my entire life. Get mad, ask questions, and dig deeper. Don’t just be Mr. Nice Guy who knows all the right answers. Speak up and tell me how you feel. I had found the true meaning to a verse i had been staring at for months.
A friend of mine called me and brought this verse to my attention:
Psalm 13: “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer.”
I read this verse several times during my depression and always saw the statement of anger. David seemed angry and i was angry. I identified with David and realized it was okay to be angry.
So I had this idea. To help people realize its okay to be angry at God. I wanted to write about my experiences. To let others know it doesn’t make you a bad person. To hopefully get other people to see past their “depression” and realize it is healthy. My conclusion would be to show that not only is it healthy, but God craves us to want more from him, to cry out to him, and to wrestle with our situations and not just accept them.
Fast forward a few years…
I’m reading Velvet Elvis. I believe it is Rob Bell’s first book. (Don’t ask me what its about because so far he has presented so many ideas and thoughts that I can’t remember half of them.) Somewhere towards the beginning he introduced a new idea (to me) and used Psalm 13 as an example.
He is making the point that questioning sets us free. God wants us to question Him. In fact, the “great” people of the Bible all questioned God when He chose them.
In the book of Genesis, Abraham is told by God what He is going to do to Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham says, “Will not the ruler of the Earth do right?”
When the angels tell Mary she will give birth to the Messiah she says, “But how can this be? I’m a virgin!”
For two chapters Moses tries to convince God that He has the wrong man. God almost seems to get more confident in his decision the more Moses questions.
And David, In Psalm 13, questions God repeatedly.
Its almost as if God chooses the people who don’t just accept what they are told. Why would that be? The idea itself even raises more questions.
Here’s the point…
Don’t just accept. It has taken God several years to explain to me that the purpose of my life, the Bible, and my experiences are not to teach people to accept Christianity. I am to teach people to question it. To question life, the Bible, and their experiences. I think this is the role of all spirtual leaders. That is what Jesus did. He rarely gave a direct answer to questions about God. Even God himself usually answered with a statement that lead to more questions. Like when Moses asks God for his name, God replies, “I am”. Now that is a definitive answer, isn’t it? This is what teachers and leaders have been missing. God is making sure I don’t miss this.
So from here…
I don’t know about the rest of the book yet, but at this point if I learn nothing else from it, the point he makes in the introduction is worth the time spent reading. This is where God has been calling me. This has been His Work to get me to the point where I am today.
Jesalyn and I are in a huge transitional phase in our lives. What started as pursuing a selfish dream of mine has now evolved into pursuing The Truth. Pursuing God’s will for my life. And this is it.
This will be the purpose for my new blog, my life, and for the new direction God is sending Jes and me. To continue to get closer to the Truth by questioning and getting others to question along with me. I really appreciate all the support from friends and family we have been receiving the last couple months. I am so excited about what God has in the future and I hope all of you will be with us on this journey.