Monday, April 22, 2013
Is Jesus enough?
The book Pagan Christianity is an interesting, and for some, a challenging look at the origins of the modern Protestant church traditions and structure. While some find it controversial or dismiss it, I feel no one can deny the main point is true - our modern church looks very little like the early church as it began at Pentecost.
This can be - and should be - challenging when we compare how we 'do church' now and ask ourselves why this is.
Even though I loved the book, I wouldn't advocate (and I don't think the book is advocating this either) just chucking everything we have now out.... Not yet, anyway..... and I wouldn't say the traditions or structure we have now are inherently wrong even if they did have roots in pagan or other customs. But I definitely think as Christians we should all be aware of where our traditions and current church structure comes from, and recognise them as just that - man made traditions and world-imitating structure.
I think this is hard to grapple with for some people. It feels foundation shaking to suggest removing the system they are comfortable with. It is tempting to say we 'need' these rules and structures we have in place within churches otherwise people would do whatever they want, or things may fall apart.
And maybe that is true as things currently stand. Take the hierarchy and policies out of the church organizations and many people would struggle.
But I would suggest, if chaos insued, that is only because we have set it up to be that way - to rely on the hierarchy and system to keep us going.
And what does that say about our faith, if taking away the 'system' and the rules would cause us to fall apart? Do we rely on the pastor to make us a Christian? Do we rely on the system to show us to live? Do we rely on the rules to know how to treat people? Do we rely on the building to know God? Are our foundations on anything other than Jesus?
If we say "we need the structure" then we are essentially saying yes - we are saying we don't know how to be a Christian without the organisation we call church....
We are saying Jesus isn't enough!!
We aren't alone in this. The Israelites did the same thing to God all those years ago. They said He wasn't good enough as their King. They wanted a human king, just like everyone else. They didnt want to be different.
Have we done the same? Have we brought the worlds customs, structures and heirarchical systems into the church because we are more comfortable that way? Because we don't want to be different?
I suspect it is because being different requires much more active effort. It's not always comfortable. And it doesn't allow for passivity.
Are we allowing the pastor to run our faith for us? Are we relying on the structure to help us live as Christians?
Or are we relying on Jesus as Lord of our lives? Are we allowing the Holy Spirit to empower our faith? Are we trusting that God knows how to build his church better than we do?
If we took away everything else holding us up - is Jesus enough?