Friday, February 11, 2005

Our sole purpose as Christians…

In our adult Sunday School class we are discussing Gordon Fee’s book, How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth. Our discussion as late, though, has been hijacked towards that of cultural and / or generational differences in how we “do” church. We’ve got a lot of “feelers” at our church right now and, while they have very good intentions, they seem to elevate the emotional aspect of Christianity to the point where rational analysis is deemed unnecessary, at best, and a hindrance, at worst. I think that part of the problem is that the average Christian in our church simply doesn’t understand what the Church is truly about. In discussing the role of Christians in evangelism, for instance, one person stated that evangelism was our “sole purpose” as a Church. I would imagine that the basis for such a statement is Jesus’ Great Commission command (Matthew 28:19). A careful reading of the scripture containing the Great Commission, though, reveals that Christians were not to evangelize but to make disciples. While the latter includes the former, the former does not necessarily include the latter. One must wonder why the command to baptize, also found in the Great Commission, does not seem to be revered as highly as that of the misinterpreted command to evangelize. Jesus’ command to partake in the communion table (Luke 22:19-20) also does not seem to be as highly regarded as our “sole purpose” of evangelism. And, while I’m at it, what are we to make of Jesus’ explicit statements regarding the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:37-40)? (i.e., Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself.) Do we have a “sole purpose” as a Church? As individual Christians? If so, where does the act of worship fit in? Do we worship God because of who He is and what He is owed?
As he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he approached the road leading down from the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” But some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the very stones will cry out!” - Luke 19:36-40 NET
Or do we co-opt our worship in order to tap into a feel-good experience that ultimately advertises to the non-Christian exactly what he or she can get from Jesus?


Anonymous said...

This is a great book, I had to read it in my undergrad courses and it was a huge blessing.

BTW, did you know your right hand side is not at the top, but rather lagging way down on the bottom of your page?

Rusty said...

Hi Stacy,

I tweaked the html a bit on my template, does the sidebar show up properly now? (btw, firefox didn't have a problem displaying the page properly... only IE)

ilona said...

Sometimes the template gets whacked out by large photos,etc, in the posts. I think it has to do with margins in the css.
Anyway, I think you made a point. We like to reduce things to "sole" purpose, but does God give it that expression? We think we are lending an air of importance to the emphasis, but it usually ends up a bit wrong, as you've shown.

I'd like to add to your differentiation between the thinkers and feelers. It helped me alot to look at the Myers-Briggs model on personality, and understand that there are different ways to understand.

Lots of times the feelers get things right, but they need the definition and parameters that analytical thinkers give it. We actually see this in the varied callings of the Church.

So when they say "evangelism" you are saying "let's look at what all that entails" when you say discipleship. It gives 3d form to the thing that they feel and see. They give you the focus of their heart which sometimes bypasses the overly complicated manner that thinkers tend to favor.

Just thoughts....

Rusty said...

Yes Ilona you make a good point regarding the need to look at the whole, complete picture. We need to understand that our existence encompasses both the rational and the emotional. BTW, this understanding is immensely helpful, as I'm sure you've already experienced, when learning how best to teach each of your individual children (i.e., one size does not fit all...).

ilona said...

It did help me with my children. I think the most pragmatic idea I ever read was the one that discussed learning styles. Finding out about how to approach the kinesthetic learner was probably the most amazing "how-to" for me.

There is so much to learn about how we interact with our world and each other- it just makes you praise God when the realization of it strikes you.

Btw-you do just an amazing job of exploring the evolution/ID issue.

Anonymous said...

I think you are simply falling into the same mistakes many people do, assuming the way you do things, your interpretations of the bible, your church is the correct way.

Your the perfect example of the 'No true Scotsman fallacy'

Sadly I think you've become so deluded that you may never see another point of view again. let alone Gods.

Carey said...

For quite some time I've seen that the church has been lop-sided in it's view of purpose. Make disciples is much larger than simply "winning souls." The reason is obvious when you think about it. Jesus wanted a church FULL of reproducers, not consumers. And that's not to say that reproducing means "evangelizing" only - but rather reproducing themselves (mature disciples). He wanted adult believers, not infant believers.

In regard to your question about the #1 and #2 commandments, I think when you love your neighbor as you love yourself, then they are ones you pursue in order to "make a disciple"...