Welcome to Brian's Bits, where Brian gets to share at length about various topics stirring inside of him.
The Individual vs. the System
11 July 2013
This is now the 22nd article I've written on the topic of "Modern Christianity and the Church." As a reader, you must ALWAYS keep in mind that I am ALWAYS talking about the worldwide — or at least Western — religious system commonly called Christianity. I am not at all referring to individuals or particular congregations. I'm focusing exclusively on the religious SYSTEM.
The authors of Pagan Christianity? expressed very well what I'm trying to say:
We are making an outrageous proposal: that the church in its contemporary, institutional form has neither a Biblical nor a historical right to function as it does.... We do not doubt that God can, and undoubtedly does, work through practices invented by humans, that have no Scriptural basis. That God still works through people in the institutional church is beyond dispute. But just because God may use His people in a particular system does not mean that He approves of that system.We hear reports all the time of what God is doing on the earth. If He can do that much through the broken, rancid religious system of modern Christianity, imaging what He could do were this system to be demolished and replace by HIS way of doing things! What would that look like? I've already shared this in two past articles, but because I think it is one of the most important things I have even written, I feel like I should share it again here:
There are so many needs the government is expected to meet. The poor, the elderly, the unemployed, the sick, health insurance, retirement, veterans ... on and on it goes. All the while, the government sinks deeper and deeper into debt. Then, there's the American Church, which spends most of the money it receives in donations on itself. Imagine how many billions and billions of dollars have been spent just on church buildings, real estate, salaries and equipment and other "necessities"!What I am proposing here is not a change in an individual or particular congregation. It should be obvious that what I'm talking about is a radical and complete change to the SYSTEM of modern Christianity. This is the passion of my heart, and this is the passion I wish to communicate in the articles I write for this Web site. My heart resonates with the words of the Apostle Paul:
Historically, the Church has been the one to provide aid to the poor, health care, education, care for the elderly, and many other social services and reforms. Most, if not all, of the first hospitals and universities were started by Christians. But over the last century or so, much of this has been abandoned by the Church, and has been taken over by the government, which is notorious for its inefficiency and bloated bureaucracy. And now the government is staggering under the financial weight of these needs. Meanwhile, the American Church is staggering under the financial weight of church buildings and real estate, Sunday services, and professional clergy and staff. All of which not only doesn't help the believers to grow spiritually, but actually HINDERS them from spiritual growth! What does true Biblical Christianity have to do with megachurches and steeples, stained glass and sound systems?
I have a dream ... a dream of the American Church being transformed ... a dream of American society being transformed. Not just a transformation, but a revolution! Imagine the life and vitality that would flow into, and then out of, the American Church with no church buildings, no church real estate, no Sunday church gatherings, and no paid clergy and staff to support all that — and thriving because of it! Imagine believers turning into disciples rather than remaining spectators!
Am I naïve and silly to dream such a radical, ridiculous dream? Is this a dream that could never come true? I don't think this is too impossible to dream, because I think it WILL happen. It HAS to happen! And if we don't do it voluntarily, then I believe that God will compel us. Because I don't think this is just my dream, but a God dream as well. This change MUST come. We in the American Church are on a wrong, bad path. One way or another we MUST get off of it, and back to what God intended for His Church.
Could the American Church possibly find it in its heart to make a public apology to the nation: "We, the American Church, confess that we have lived selfishly, and we have abandoned our responsibilities. We have amassed properties and buildings, possessions and hierarchies, but we have neglected the poor and needy, the sick and ignorant, the lonely and destitute. Because we have dropped the ball, we have caused the government to try to take our place, a role for which it was never designed. In order to demonstrate our true repentance, and in order to become the Church that Jesus, the Head of the Church, is calling us to be, within the next 12 months we will sell ALL of the properties and buildings we own which are used for religious services, and lay off ALL of our paid staff, including pastors and other leaders. We will become a house-based Church, embracing and practicing the values of relationship, discipleship, participation and generosity. All of the money we receive from these changes, as well as all of the donations we will receive in the future, will be spent, not on ourselves, but for the needs of society."
Imagine the impact such a radical repentance and radical lifestyle would have on America, and the whole world! Imagine how much lower our taxes would be if the Church would spend its money for the needs of society rather than on itself, so that the government wouldn't need to! If the Church were doing its job, whole sections of the government could be shut down! Imagine the shock the American people would have to see the Church finally starting to live like the Church! And I'm not even talking about individual Christians selling all they have and giving to the poor, but just the Institutional Church itself.
Some Christians and some churches will catch the vision for this and make the changes voluntarily. Unfortunately, I think that most of the Church will not make these changes until forced to through persecution or other circumstances. But it WILL happen.
I am jealous for you [the Church] with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband — Messiah. But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Messiah has become corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Yeshua (Jesus) than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of Gospel than the one you believed....
These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Messiah. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:2-4,13-15)
This article is 22nd a series of articles on this Web site related to Modern Christianity and the Church which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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