Thursday, July 22, 2010

Genuine Church

"Genuine church life is born when groups of people are intoxicated with a glorious unveiling of their Lord. Jesus Christ is the only foundation upon which an authentic church can be built" -- Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, Jesus Manifesto page 143.
I have just finished reading Jesus Manifesto and many times I nearly signed in and offered some thoughts along the way. I waited to complete the reading to gain a full understanding of the perspective the authors offer to us. The above quote is one of two which have captured my heart and mind. The other I will write on later.

I have spend years studying, going to seminars and conferences, picking the brains of those around me, and any other way to gain information about this thing called the church. Over the years I have come across some really great programs, and have used many of them. I have a long list of things which "successful" churches must do if they are going to be great churches. I have to confess there was even a time when I did the whole Rick Warren Hawaiian shirt thing. With all this information out there, and with a number of churches who seem to be successful at drawing numbers of people it seems the whole church thing should be simple.

One problem, anyone who has ever worked to see the church become all that it can be knows this is not easy work. Often the programs come up short and the church no matter the size seems to fall short of being the embodiment of Christ. Perhaps the goal is too lofty. Maybe it just is not possible to experience the genuine church as described by none other than Jesus himself. What if the problem is not the possibility, rather the problem is us. A quick study of the New Testament would reveal there was not a set of programs, or even conferences to attend. I am not sure there were even Hawaiian shirts in those days. Yet the church of Jesus Christ exploded onto the scene. What was it that caused the church to be the church in such a way? The people of the church had an all out intoxication with Jesus Christ. Jesus was the center of peoples every moment. There was no division of life, church and Jesus. I guess today we might say they were an organic whole.

Not a program. Not a technique. Simply Jesus. In the Western world we have become so intoxicated with all kinds of things. Unfortunately Jesus is often left off the list of intoxicants. We will never experience the fullness of Jesus, the genuine church, unless the people who would be identified by Jesus Christ return Jesus to the intoxicating center of their being.

"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

There might be a temptation to sent this along to someone in a church. Perhaps you might send it along to your pastor. Before you send it to anyone do your work first. Wrestle with the place Jesus has in your life. Are you intoxicated with Jesus?