Archive for the ‘What If?’ Category

“Statements” of Faith

I teach technical classes all around the country. People often ask, “how is the class going?” My answer is always the same; “I don’t know, you should ask my students.”

You see, my impressions of what I am doing don’t mean much. The people I affect have a much better take on it. What I think about my teaching doesn’t matter.

I have known many Christians who thought they are awesome. Yet non Christians around them thought they were insensitive jerks, idiots or worse. In too many cases, I had to agree with the non Christians.

Statements of theological beliefs are absolutely meaningless if they are not backed up with actions. You can’t say you believe in God’s love when nobody around you knows you to be a loving person. You can’t say you trust God when everyone knows you to be a fearful, anxious and negative person. Your profession would be pure nonsense.

Your “statement of faith” is you actions. They are the evidence of what you believe. The best and only evidence of your “Christianity” is what you do with it.

Every person who follows Christ is a practitioner in the art of imitation. We imitate the Son of God. This is how we follow Him.

When Jesus was approached by His first two prospective followers, they asked Him where He was staying. Jesus could have answered with a lengthy explanation of His itinerary and the reasons and goals for His journey. Instead, He just answered “come and see.”

Imagine if your “statement of faith” were just “come along, you’ll see.”

What If We Had a Mission?

You see it in nearly every church at least once a year. A missionary comes around to talk about his work somewhere in the third world. This missionary always invokes the “Great Commission” and talks about the perils and rewards of oversees missionary work.

What I want to ask is this: What is a missionary? Is it some sort of different class of Christian? What, or who did Jesus have in mind when he gave this thing we call “The Great Commission? Lets take a look at what he said:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Mat 28:18-20 ESV

The disciples are sent out to make more disciples. Those new disciples are to be “apprenticed” in the ways of Jesus. What did those disciples do? Well, if you read the accounts in Acts, they expanded all over the Roman empire and beyond. They “went” into “all nations” making disciples and teaching them…then those disciples went…and then their disciples went…and so it goes.

Do you see the progression? The numbers went from the initial handful of disciples to an estimated 25 million in less than 400 years. All of this was done person to person without mass communication. There were no printing presses. Personal ownership of books, let alone bibles was virtually unknown. What’s more interesting is that there were no churches as we know them today: no Sunday church services, no evangelistic crusades, no seminaries, no professional clergy. And during this period of great expansion, this Jesus Movement was outlawed. many thousands of people were jailed and tortured and publicly executed.

In spite of all this, this ancient Jesus movement spread like wildfire. Why?

Now, we send “missionaries” to third world countries, and see them once a year of two. But what are we doing here? I don’t mean in the country in general, I mean in our neighborhoods. If we send missionaries and they do this work, then what are we doing?

What are we doing today that looks anything like what that ancient Jesus movement? What do we see that comes anywhere near that in our culture?

Throughout history, when the Christians had persecution, they lost their institutional practices. They were cut down to the bare essentials of following Jesus. The result was almost always explosive expansion, solid uncompromising faithfulness to Christ and compassion and good will to the world…especially their persecutors. It is happening right now in China, and many other places in the world.  It’s happening and it has always been happening.

Do we need a persecution to get back to these “bare essentials?” What if we could get to this place on our own?

What if we had a mission? If  the task of disciples (followers of Jesus) is to make more disciples and teach them to follow Jesus then you would think we get to do this too. Is Christianity just a matter of  being a member of a local church? What if that local church re calibrated itself to operate more like the persecuted church? What if our mission dictated the priorities and values of our churches (rather than the other way around).

What if we looked at Acts 2 and did as they did? Take a look at that passage sometime. It’s interesting to think of how that would look in our time. What if we devoted ourselves to learning as much as we could about Jesus? What if we prayed and ate together? What if we took care of each other and those around us, acting as Jesus said? What if we took every opportunity, even conspired together to do acts of kindness and restoration in our communities. What if it went something like this:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common.  And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,  praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47

We can do this. We need to become what we were always meant to be. We are a community, not a semi-private social religious club with a pointy roofed club house. We don’t go to church, we ARE the church. And we get to do all these things. We are not selling theology, we are living like the Son of God. Just like the people in Jerusalem so long ago. Just like those who went before us.

We all serve Christ. We all have this mission. We are all “missionaries.”