Does your local church life look like a healthy family or a factionalized and failing corporation?
The reason for my asking this question is not to stir up discontent and for every one of my readers to leave their local fellowship of believers. I’ve slowed a bit in my passion for church planting per se, and I’ve never been a fan, even in the church-planting conversation, of people leaving local churches to join church plants. A church plant should predominantly be composed of a few refreshing singles and families passionate about Gospel dissemination and then new believers and returning-to-fellowship other believers. When I was talking church planting, there were two camps I thought of most often: (1) The unchurched believer; (2) New believers in Christ.
So, back to the reason for my question at the start of this post… Wow, Torrey, stay on track! We have got to look at our local churches as family gatherings, God-oriented, Gospel-responding gatherings of SIBLINGS IN CHRIST far and above it ever feeling like a corporation or pragmatic focus as a group of humans on pragmatic ends. The irony in this is that at the same time, it’s extremely important that we not just gather to discuss nice ideas from God’s Word and then go and do nothing in response. When we gather, God should be viewed biblically as our Father, our LORD over all, the Holy Spirit that enlivens us, the Son Who died for us. We should be gathering to worship the Holy Godhead, the Triune God of Heaven, with the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives, tying us together as siblings.
Currently, I’m very much enjoying slowly reading through a book called Adopted for Life: The priority of adoption for Christian families and churches – SEE LINK. Russell Moore points out something on page 38 and 39 that nails yours and my local church life between the eyes.
When we find our identity anywhere other than Christ, our churches will be made up of warring partisans rather than loving siblings… What would it mean, though, if we took the radical notion of being brothers and sisters seriously? What would happen if your church saw an elderly woman no one would ever confuse with “cool” on her knees at the front of the church praying with a body-pierced fifteen-year-old anorexic girl? What would happen if your church saw a white millionaire corporate vice president being mentored by a Latino minimum wage-earning janitor because both know the janitor is more mature in the things of Christ?
Here’s where, I think, the nub of the whole issue lies. Adoption would become a priority in our churches if our churches themselves saw our brotherhood and sisterhood in the church itself rather than in our fleshly identities. For some Christians – maybe for you – it’s hard to imagine how an African-American could love a white Ukrainian baby, how a Haitian teenager could call Swedish parents “Mom” and “Dad.” Of course that’s hard to imagine, when so many of our churches can’t even get over differences as trivial as musical style.
If we had fewer “white” churches and “black” churches, fewer “blue-collar” churches and “white-collar” churches, maybe we’d see better what Jesus tells us when He says we’ve come into a new household with one Spirit, one Father, one Christ. In fact, maybe the reason we wonder whether “adopted” children can “really” be brothers and sisters is because we so rarely see it displayed in our pews.
Really sobering and yet refreshing! May our local churches in Merced and Tuolumne Counties more and more be marked by a focus on lifestyles that display our siblinghood in Christ. We are siblings, in FACT, in the blood-line of Jesus Christ. It’s His blood that spiritually and eternally now runs in our veins. We are forever to be and enjoy the benefits of being children of God. You, brother, are a prince in the bloodline of God Himself! You, dear sister, are a princes in the kingdom of the King of kings, Himself! We are sons and daughters of the King over all kingdoms, the King over all the earth and universe for all of eternity!
Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob, and steadfast love to Abraham, as You have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
Enjoy the LORD today, siblings in Christ!
Now that’s a good word, Torrey.
Thank you, Ron! You’re a dear friend and encourager!