When we come to understand that one of the main reasons we assemble is for us to be able to encourage and motivate other Christians, then we will see how misguided the whole “Jesus is enough; I don’t need the church” movement is. That’s an egotistical approach. As long as my needs are met, everything is good.
Our focus in meeting together should be on how to help others be more like Jesus. When we realize that, we’ll never say, “I don’t need to go to church.”
Was in an interesting discussion the other day, talking about traditions of space in a church’s history. OK, we were talking about why people sit in the same pew year after year, even if that means sitting in a spot that is isolated from others.
When I was growing up, we always sat in the front section, toward the left. It was exciting when I was old enough to sit in the front middle with the rest of the youth group. After leaving for college, I would sit with the other university students on the right side of the auditorium whenever I visited.
At some point, my parents began sitting in the back. My dad had some health issues and would sometimes need to get up during the service. And you could park closer to the exit nearest that back section.
I was always a visitor when we sat in the back section. Not just because we were in the back, but that was part of it. It was a reminder that the congregation was no longer exactly the same as when I was growing up. Others of my parents’ friends had also rotated to the back. Almost no one sat where they did when I was young.
If you’re waiting for a deep theological point to be made, I don’t have one. A practical point would be to not make assumptions about why people sit where they do. And also, respect the fact that for many, where they sit has a deeper meaning than their mere proximity to the pulpit area.
Heard Carson Reed share some thoughts on church leadership this weekend. Really liked something he pointed out from Matthew. I’d never noticed the parallelism between these two passages:
“And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” (Matthew 4:23)
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” (Matthew 9:35)
Dr. Reed pointed out that these verses seem to describe the material that lies between them, showing how Jesus did three things:
He then noted the similarity of thought with the commission he gave his disciples in the next chapter:
“And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.” (Matthew 10:7–8)
His point was that these things describe what the church should be doing today.
A few of my own thoughts:
- I think the teaching and proclaiming actually were one thing, which explains why the teaching part is gone in Chapter 10.
- As someone else in our group pointed out, these verses also include the idea of going. Jesus didn’t set up shop and wait for people to come to him. It would have been easy to establish Jesus University and still teach and heal. Yet he went and told his disciples to go.
Anyway, I liked the way Dr. Reed related these passages. Any thoughts?
As I increasingly find myself marching to the beat of a different drummer than those around me, I’m trying to learn how to keep step with the church. I don’t worry too much about society in general; I don’t mind not fitting in there. But I need to know how to love and serve in a church (broad sense, not local church) where many see things differently than I.
It’s funny. When you’re younger, it almost seems appropriate to feel out of step. You’re a rebellious youth, with new vision and a spirit of restoration. You’re calling the church back to what it should be.
As it gets older, if you’re not in step, then you’re holding the church back. You’re not following the Spirit. You’re clinging to tradition.
For my money, the two situations are virtually identical. The question is how to find the grace to deal with the situation.
I don’t always comment on the links I share in the “Links to Go,” but I thought the first one today was very helpful. As we look back, we often marvel at the stupidity of the things we’ve done in the past. As the article notes, that should sound a note of caution for us today; one day we’ll quite likely look back harshly on things we think and do today.
Which is something I think we especially need to remember in the church. We look back on the way the church was in the past, be it 10 years ago or a 100 years ago. As we do, we wonder how people could have been so blind, how they could have not seen the obvious truths in Scripture.
Be forewarned: we’ll feel the same way in the future about the church of today. How could we not have seen? How could we have believe that? How could we have done this or not done that?
As the article suggests, realizing this trend should help us to show more grace toward others and toward ourselves.