Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Who is Church?

This is from a friend of mine Alan Gray. These words were simply from a couple of comments that he posted in a discussion we were having on facebook. But wow, did they ever ring true deep inside of me!

My church is, at once a billion people spread across the face of the earth and the company of just two or three others. I love the church more than anything else but there is only one, She is the radiant bride of Christ. She is everywhere and I enjoy her company on all occasions in equal degree. Sitting, isolated in silence for an hour on a Sunday morning in an environment that functionally forbids my speaking except perhaps if I am fortunate and quick enough to catch her making a hasty exit after the formal procedures are duly satisfied. Maybe then we can spend some real time together, not simply sitting silently in the same auditorium considering it "gathering together" to satisfy what was originally meant to be helpful advice to a very wayward group of her misguided Jews 2000 years ago, that has now become a command and requirement to demonstrate my committedness to her.

The idea that our relationship with the rest of the church ever be reduced to measuring what we give and what we get displays a tragic loss of love. A marriage will never survive the language of equitable exchange in giving and receiving.

It is not the deep intimate nature of a relationship with other members of Christ that I prefer to avoid. On the contrary, I seek it at every chance I get through out the week and throughout the day. It is the rigid human sequences and lifeless processes of organized human logic reduced to something we thoughtlessly and ignorantly call a "service" and repeat endlessly week after week until all the intimacy is completely squeezed out of it that I am avoiding.

Once you are no longer a herd, wandering in the wilderness being lead by a single man and being fed the same food, as wonderful and life sustaining as manna was, there is no comparison to the milk and honey of a land in which we are free to feed ourselves and enjoy the freedom to follow the Spirit of God and not the visions of a man.

A freedom that even the ancient Hebrews could not sustain due to their indifference to the love of their Father in heaven and their servile dependence on human leadership. A freedom that is now, as it was then, greatly taught but only slightly lived within the duty bound institutions of humanly organized corporate religious thinking. A non-profit corporation that plagiarizes the name 'church' and calls out to those who are conditioned for labor from years of bearing the burden of their own sin so it can lift it, for a short time, only to replace it with the burden of policy and mission and the work of the gospel to be done. In the one case they were burdened with the weight of their own sin in the latter, they are given the weight of the sins of everyone they meet. The burden of hell is no longer just your own, you must carry that responsibility for everyone you know. You must be a moral beacon, you must be a servant of all, you must not lust with your heart, you must give all of yourself to the mission. You may be the only Jesus your neighbor will ever see and when they are burning in the fires of hell, they may call out and ask you why you never told them about this salvation.

If a Jew or anyone else for that matter, has found his way to no longer worship in "this place or that place" but rather "in spirit and in truth" and the only yoke he is bound to is the love of his own life now held in obedience by the hand of his loving Father in heaven, then that one has most certainly entered the promised land.

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