Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Unleash the Anonymous Body

"True Religion confronts earth with heaven and brings eternity to bear apon time. The messanger of Christ, though he speaks from God, must also, as the Quakers used to say, 'speak to the condition' of his hearers; otherwise he will speak a language known only to himself. His message must be not only timeless but timely. He must speak to his own generation."

-A.W. Tozer

I wish the church could be a little more like Jesus, but seeing as that its' made up of all us humans I don't see it happening. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the church. As baffling as it may be it's there for a reason. It is Christ's bride. I just wish it were perfect. I'd like to see no collateral damage. I tire of hearing all the horror stories of those hurt by the church, of staff fired for little reason, and of failing those who watch from the back row without ever learning anyone's name. If we are lucky the onlookers make it to the Easter alter call. Unfortunatly, they usually don't stick around long enough. Curiosity becomes casualty by week three. I'm glad my pastor is so good with names and that he makes it a priority to introduce himself to the new faces. It's too bad I don't. I hardly know the old faces.

If the church isn't perfect it should at least stop pretending it is. Why do we have to be so perfect in order to attend church? The Lamb of God was nailed to the cross because we aren't perfect! Grace is born in the Lord's mercy and in our imperfections; maybe we should stop pretending our imperfections don't exist. I bet we'll have an easier time letting go of those imperfections when we no longer ignore them. Perhaps then we'll stop alienating the outsiders and hanging the insiders out to dry. Forgivness is easier when you are aware of your faults.

Perhaps its time for the church to step out of the nineties. Or the eighties, or the sixties for that matter. We may or may not be ready for it. We should, however, be willing to take the risk. It's hard for the church to "Be still, and know that I am God," when we know that the service is up to par, or that it isn't falling into place. How does a modern church be still and still reach the modern man? I wonder what would happen if for one week we didn't use the stage. What would church look like when power point doesn't lead the way? Or a sermon isn't prepared beforehand. I wonder what would happen if I simply raised my hand and asked a question instead of waiting in line after the service. A dialoge during a sermon? Unbelieveable. I wonder what would happen if crying babies were encouraged. Loud and annoying? Yes. Life? Yes. I wonder what would happen if we let one of the guys with the hearing aids begin the service with prayer, and then handed him a bible and let him speak for as long or as little as he wanted. I wonder what would happen if we didn't stop him when he started talking about the war, his trip to the grocery store, or his prostate exam. I wonder what would happen if the church bought tickets to a baseball game, and no one sat in the back row. I wonder what would happen if we recognized God's majesty when we prayed. Perhaps we wouldn't leave for lunch, or we would tip if we did.

"We Christians are the church and whatever we do is what the church is doing. The matter, therefore, is for each of us personal one. Any forward step in the church must begin with the individual."

-Tozer again

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