Grace and the Idol Called Church — Devotional


(Written by Eddie Lawrence)
The Church was birthed because Jesus positioned himself between God and sinners. He allowed his body to be hung on a cross so that his blood would be given to bring sinful man back into relationship with God.

Our call as redeemed humanity is to continue to hold up Jesus before sinful humanity as the means for their relationship with God to be restored. Believers in Jesus are the church, not the structured organization that we have made it. The wonder of the true church is Christ alive in the human heart.

His heart beating through our heart.
His mind filling our mind.
His hands touching through our hands.
His feet walking through our feet.
His eyes seeing through our eyes and ears hearing through our ears.
We have greatly reduced and at times even removed this mysterious wonder from our mindset about "church."

Human-centered theology has made church a building where people meet. Not officially, but sub-consciously we think of church as a place and event. The true church is human bodies through which Christ lives. Church today is presented as an organized structure where people get together to worship and do good things. Nothing wrong with getting together to worship; Jesus directs us to do so. Nothing wrong with structure; God is a God of order. The problem is the mindset that has developed. When we think of "church" as a place or a weekly event to attend, we miss God's heart and purpose for His Church.

Church is relational not religious routine.
Church is organic not organizational.
Church is fluid not static.
Church is life-expressing not sleep inducing.
Church is a community of people expressing the love and life of Jesus Christ to each other and the world.
Church is sacrificially giving what she has to those who don't have it.
Church is you and me moving in unity, peace, and love and positioning ourselves between God and sinful humanity in order that they may experience the Christ life.
Church is more who you are not what you do.
It is belonging to Christ and His family everywhere, not just a certain group in a certain location.

Now I strongly believe in the local expression of the Church in a community. I believe we need to belong and be accountable to other believers who live near us and work with us. But it is the relationships not the building. It is about people not a place. It is about suffering together and laughing together. Through the love of Jesus we live life together, the successes and the failures, the good times and the bad.

Yet, we have defined it way beyond this in today's world. We compete. We criticize. We chew each other up. The result is that we then position ourselves between the Lord and the lost as a dysfunctional family that harbors bitterness, resentment, and hatred. Jesus said that we are to be so in love with each other the world would know we belong to Him ( John 13:34-35 ) and be drawn toward Father.

Right before Jesus ascended back to His Father, he gave some final instructions to the fledglings that he would use to provide leadership in the early church; he basically told them to go get 'em–speaking of lost people and there's plenty of them. He said, I will send the Holy Spirit to give you the power to do it ( Acts 1:8 ). Go around the earth and share what I have done with them. Teach them to live the way you have seen me live. We know what happened after that. But what is happening now? Some things are still the same:

We have the same Lord.
We have the same instructions.
We still have a lost world.
We have the same Holy Spirit.
We too are just ordinary people.

But how are we doing? I include myself for sure in this challenge and indictment, for I have failed in so many ways to measure up to the challenge of adequately expressing the truth of Who Jesus is.

Do people really see the love of Jesus in the church?

As to the instructions, it seems we have switched the Lord's instructions from "go get 'em" to "come watch this!" Instead of canvassing the globe, we fight over a half/acre. Instead of the Holy Spirit empowering us to witness and position ourselves between God and the world in sacrificial love, we empower ourselves to create walls to keep us away from the lost. We teach our people to be afraid of the people of the world instead of loving the people of the world. It is the system of the world we are not to love.

 Maybe in our efforts to isolate God's people from the influence of the world, we, too, have created a system that oddly enough runs just like the world's system. It keeps people from really knowing God. We keep God to ourselves. We reduce Him to living in our building. People began to think this way:

To meet Him, you have to go there.
To know Him, you have to spend as much time as possible at His building.

Your spirituality is measured by your devotion to the system that has been created at the expense of really knowing His heart, which is to position your life along with other lovers of Jesus right in the middle of the world system and love people to Jesus. If what we have does not work where we work, then what we have is not what Jesus wants us to have. We do need regular times to meet and interact and to be instructed. We do need spiritual leaders to teach us and hold us accountable. We do desperately need each other. But all this should be with God's heart for those who are so desperate and don't even know what they hunger for.

The Christian life is kinda like a football game. Players beg the coach to put them in the game, not to let them sit on the bench. The goal is not to sit on the bench and watch a few people play. The goal is to hit the field and take it to the opponent. For the church, the true opponent is the one behind the system of the world. As long as the wrong belief about church deceives us into believing that the mission is accomplished when we sit on the bench more often and watch more games and maybe even cheer a little louder, we will not impact the world the way we should. And we will also have to start looking at each other as the opponent in order to get a good game going.

How long will we scrimmage against ourselves? What is the good news in all this?

The news is still the same Good News. Fortunately, Jesus still stands between us and the Father and prays for us. I believe because of Who He is and how He loves, those prayers will be answered!
What an awesome sight when God releases grace to all of us and breaks us loose from all the idols built in our hearts. Of course, the idol is anything we love more than Him, even the "church".

You see in the real game, I think the unity and power of God's team is so awesome, that players on the other team will actually want to switch teams and play for our Coach. Since we are the visiting team right now, we have to play on the other team's field. But the more of them that switches sides, it won't be that long, till it will be our field.

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