What in this chapter really resonated with your journey?
"Instead of teaching people to follow Jesus, they instruct people to follow his teachings as they have interpreted them and the rituals they have identified as essential. They even co-op the term faith as another word for their religion,instead of a growing trust in who God is."
I absolutely love this definition of faith!
I also loved the dialogue between Wayne and the Jewish guide, Abraham. “You would think if one of us was serving the Living God, it would look different.” Indeed. What a challenge to each of us. How do we do community so that it truly reflects Jesus?
Almost every paragraph in this chapter jumped out at me, and had really great stuff… I think I highlighted half the chapter (LOL).
I especially loved the beginning of the chapter where paragraph 4 went into paragraph 5:
(4a) Jesus had it easy. Because he didn’t have to run a ministry or manage a congregation, he was free to engage people exactly as he found them. He didn’t have to make them do anything for him; thus, he was free to love them…
(5) Whenever we move from sharing the kingdom freely to managing people for their own good, a host of harmful things can result even with our best intentions. That’s how we traded a kingdom of love for a religion of rituals, creeds, rules, and icons, and how its leaders became those who manage programs instead of helping people live in relationship with a loving Father.
This is a good description of so much of what I see in the IC these days,and I’m beginning to see the vicious loop of this trap, and how we all can get snared in it.
When I became a Christian over forty years ago at age 21 and heard that the gospel offered a relationship with God, not a religion, that was something radical I had never heard before. But through the years I have observed that our institutional approaches to church turn the relationship with God into a religion. I read this book when it was first released and haven’t reread it but I think I will never forget the conversation with the Jewish tour guide at the end of the chapter because it illustrates so powerfully and so tragically what the world sees and what we often have experienced, just another religion. That is not what Jesus suffered, died, and rose again to give us.
“Christianity has simply co-opted New Testament terminology to paint over old covenant realities. We are still preoccupied with law, priesthood, offerings, holy days, and sacred spaces.”
I was sad and set free from all the wasted hours studing these things, try to live them out, failing, trying harder to get it right.
I am so grateful for the easy yoke. Yet all around me, so many are still preoccupied with it. All I can do is smile and love them and watch for when they too discover the freedom in Christ.
My question exactly. The guide’s response is the most compelling truthful answer. This is the tragedy. We serve a living God. Just let your mind rub that around. He is alive. That should quicken the soul. Then what are our actions doing that make Him dead? We do not need to “tame” God into a system.
“Teaching is a lecture on Sunday morning, instead of illuminating the next step in someone’s journey. Authority is derived from a position in an institution instead of speaking God’s heart accurately. One can be a good Christian by fitting into a set of expectations and still not know Jesus or the transforming power he gives.” This would describe me pretty well. Whatever rules or theology was put in front of me is what you do if your a real Christian, anything less should make you question whether your really saved.
“What if instead of creating a widow’s fund that needed administration, they would have asked the bigger question: Why are we neglecting to care for the neediest among us? Yes, that’s more challenging. Yes, that means people have to look inside themselves and find a connection with Jesus that demonstrates itself in care for others.” I have often asked why does following God seem so complicated? Shouldn’t we be feeding the poor and helping the widows? God speaks of this often in Scripture.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
The program must happen at all costs. Pastors are on a schedule and maybe they can squeeze you in at the end of the week. If your so busy doing stuff that you pass by the people, then you have completely missed what your supposed to be doing.
…all man-made religions have the same components at their core.
It follows that changing denominations, then, is like, for lack of a better phrase, changing deck chairs on the Titanic! I grew up with the faith of my father. My mother was of a different faith. And I’ve watched a friend convince his wife to leave her faith to join his. Simply put, it’s not about religion, it’s about relationship with Jesus. Seemingly, the denomination is not a pathway to that relationship, but a roadblock.
It is not so much a do. All our techniques seem to involve forming a system with priorities we think consistent with community and then getting other people to follow it. Community is the fruit of relationships growing in love. If learn to live loved (both in his and expressing his to others) community will take shape in the people we know who love and care about us as much as we love and care about them. There are no shortcuts to real community.
Chapter 5 had a lot of places that connected to my thought processes, some which have been mentioned earlier in the responses.
“The New Testament presents a great contrast between God’s activity and our own. On the one hand, God does extraordinary things to invite people out of a broken world into the life of a new creation. On the other hand, flawed human attempts to organize that grace into viable systems distort the life of the church and beckon them back to the old creation of human effort. It didn’t take long for the Galatians to abandon a gospel of grace and relationship for a system of religious performance. Believers in Corinth selfishly exploited one another and had already divided into factions and demonstrated that they were no longer living in the unity Jesus gives. In other places, the young communities succumbed to sexual immorality and false teaching. Even the solutions they came up with to resolve the problems often presented new ones.”
“Even the solutions they came up with to resolve the problems often presented new ones.”
“…Jesus addressed the Ephesian church in the book of Revelation they are lauded for their discernment between true and false teachers, but warned that it had come at the expense of their first love.”
“…Like the early believers, we are so easily drawn back into the self-protecting mechanisms of the old creation rather than continuing to trust Jesus to build his church.”
“Even a cursory look at the history of Christian institutions shows how days of renewal harden into movements that have replaced the priorities of the kingdom with the needs of an institution.”
Thes are paragraphs that I used several colours of highlighting on.
And this one…
“I wonder if Luke told this story not as a positive example of dealing with need, but as a warning against institutional fixes to relational problems. Far from being proof of centralized offerings, isn’t it more likely a warning that when they did so it became counterproductive to the free ministry of Jesus flowing among them? No system exists that cannot be exploited by those who will use it for their own gain, and often it’s the leaders as much as those they hope to help.”