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When Jesus and the church part ways August 7, 2006

Posted by fajita in Christianity, emerging church/emergent, Philosophy/Religion, Post-restoration/Restoration Movement.

I am quite confident that Jesus would not forsake the church, but it is the inverse of this relational formula that I am not so certain of. Would the church ever forsake Jesus? Has the church forsaken Jesus?

What I have experienced in fundamental (and much of evangelical) Christianity is a complete reboot of the group of religious leaders most criticized by Jesus – the Pharisees. At the same time, what I have observed from afar in mainline and liberal Christianity is a reboot of another highly criticized group by Jesus – the Saducees. The Pharisees built rules to govern their externals and thought it did them good. The Sadducees shacked up with their culture a little too much and thought that it did them some good. Neither were regarded with much favor in the eyes of Jesus. 

Instead, Jesus intentionally did good that made the conservatives’ and liberals’ good look bad. He found a way to break the spell so may people in that day knew they were under, but didn’t know what else to do. Either ravaged with guilt in their sin (of self-righteousness in their keeping of the rules) or intimately dancing a tango with culture, there only seemed like two alternatives. This might sound familir religiously or even politically.

Has the church left Jesus? Is the church (in America) so many points removed from Jesus that the name is all that remains? If all things American (customs, social interactions, rituals, expectations, entertainment requirements, comfort requirements, consumer mentality etc)were removed from the American church, would anything remain?

Maybe I am on some kind of cynical roll tonight, but that does not make the question irrelevant.

OK, let me push it a little farther: I am not asking if the church is straying a little bit. I am asking if it is so far gone that there needs to be a complete redo. Is the thing Jesus had in mind remotely similar to what we have on our hands today in the American church? If Jesus entered into any church in America today, in whatever its most recognizable form is, would he even know it to be a church? Would he say, “Ah, yes, church as it was meant to be.” I’m not so sure about that one.

I think sometimes that the church is like the husband who really likes what his wife does for him at home, but at the same time really likes how his girlfriend gets him off at the hotel. How long can that arrangement really last? Frankly, from what I have witnessed in my therapy practice, girlfriends are often a lot more jealous of the wife than the other way around. There will be a point of choosing one or the other.

I do not hold out hold for a perfect church – the odds of such a thing are so small I don’t have even one egg for that basket. At the same time, a church willing to be perfected, cleansed, humbled, shaped, educated, exdperienced into something useful is going to make great strides in making Jesus look like someone attractive and meaningful rather than a political opportunist or a cultural pansy.

I want to the see the American church become more concerned with goodness than denominational integrity, ready to team up to deliver food and medicine rather than turf wars and doctrinal squabbles, to explore theology as a community rather than serve up theology for consumption, to model marriage, family, and friendship in attractive ways rather than dogmatic ways or ways inditinguishable from the worst of culture. I want a church that won’t settle for politics and won’t avoid it at the same time.

In short, I want to be part of a church that has not left Jesus.


1. Fajita’s Blog » When Jesus and the church come together - August 8, 2006

[…] The rant in the previous post was a little over the top and deserves some balance – probably more than I am going to give it here. […]

2. Donna - August 9, 2006

If you can voice this and I can totally agree with you why can’t we do something about it? I really want change. I just don’t know how to do it!

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