What lines in this chapter touched you and why?
I like a couple things:
(1) At the beginning of the chapter, paragraphs 1 and 2…
Jesus was not as preoccupied with the church as we are today.
As far as we know, he didn’t teach his disciples how to plant them, build them, or manage them.
(2) When the atheist said…
“I think Jesus taught us that we have a Father who loves us more than we know, and if we could sort that out we would know how to treat each other.”
If only these 2 things could be well known and recognized, it seems like it would solve a lot of problems.
The second one shocked me as well. He gave the best statement on the matter. I love it.
Bailey / Sims, NC
“Love is never what we have to do for someone; it’s what we want to do to help someone we care deeply about.”
My experience of love within the institutional church - both of receiving it and giving it - was that we were taught we were to love others and so we went about doing that. We thought about how we could do that but as this quote points out it isn’t something you manufacture but rather something that comes naturally out of caring about another.
To me it is the subtle problem of so much of what is taught about God. So many teachings tell us how we are meant to be and then teach us to to be like that when what really needs to be taught is that from an active faith and trust in Jesus all these things flow as he works in us. That none of it happens overnight but that we are continually just a work in progress … so relax into the reality of the done work of Jesus and the transforming work he is working in us and in the world.
Jesus defined love not by what we can get, but by what we give. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” "His kingdom is not a political system nor can it be contained in a religious one. It is a vast network of people, well loved by the Father and, thus, loving others well. That would be enough, he said , for the whole world to come to know who he is. I mentioned above about the opportunity I had to serve at a coffee house called the “exchange” for a few years. I did this as a volunteer not for money or position, but so that I could meet people and help them see the love of Jesus through a relationship with us and give them a chance to see this love lived out in community. We actually began to develop a vast network of people, who loved one another and were learning to serve one another. It was a place where we could learn to “be the church” and practice what we said we believed in a real and practical way kind of the way Jesus did and modeled for us.
Going along with what has already been said (but adding my own slant!), from the first and second paragraphs: “You can’t read the Gospels without realizing that Jesus was not as preoccupied with the church as we are today”… “Instead He simply walked through life, touching people He met, showing them the reality of His Father’s kingdom, and inviting them to live in it.” Wow! I think that says it all, doesn’t it? If our Lord Jesus Christ is living in and through me, what is more important than to allow Him to live as He did when He walked this planet? I wasted so many years building the IC instead of allowing Him to build His church, “the more powerful kingdom that was making its way into the world through Jesus, Himself.”
When you spoke to the man on the airplane who was (hopefully not anymore!) an atheist. He explained his idea of what Jesus taught, you assured him that his assessment was spot on and quoted Jesus’ words from John 13 about loving each other as He has loved us. Then you asked him, “So tell me, why don’t you believe it?” He responded: “I’ve never seen it lived.” This breaks my heart…God forgive us.
For me, it was several passages, but the last line especially…
‘Even though the church that humanity has built has helped spread the message of the Gospel throughout the world, it has done so at an exorbitant cost.’
You can almost equate the human church with a retail establishment. You can go to a number of stores and buy a candy bar, for example, but each store would like you to buy a candy bar at their store. They entice you with sales, coupons, discount cards, until all of a sudden you are buying a whole lot more at said store than just a candy bar. Not only that, they differentiate their store from all the other stores, by being better in some way. Cleaner, faster service, friendlier help, etc. Why would you go to any of the other stores, ever again?
There’s the old joke, ‘The Pope may be Catholic, but God is a Baptist!’ Or fill in any other denomination for that matter, always aligning with what we are, or what we agree with. All to be the best. Yet, Jesus says, in His Kingdom, the first shall be last, and the last, first. Its a wonder the Gospel message gets through at all. But that is the power of God.
Some of the things already said here stood out to me. But also at the second to last paragraph, “Maybe he did after all tell us everything we needed to know about his church. Its teaching is more like a conversation about faith in the stern of a boat after a fierce storm than it is a lecture from a pulpit with a powerpoint presentation looming in the background. Its gatherings look more like a meal in the upper room than people sitting in rows of pews or theater seats.” This illustrates the big idea well, that Jesus modeled for us everything we need to know about being his church. This idea blew me away because it is so obviously true, yet I never saw it before or heard anyone teach it before. How could it be otherwise? After spending 3 years with Jesus would his disciples ignore what he modeled and just pull out of nowhere things he didn’t show them about what it means to be the church?
When I first read the book, I highlighted my favourite thoughts. So when the next chapter is posted for discussion… it doesn’t take me long to find what first registered with me. This chapter has a highlight on the first sentence.
'You can’t read the Gospels without realizing that Jesus was not as preoccupied with the church as we are today."
And then to…
"Instead he simply walked through life, touching people he met, showing them the reality of his Father’s kingdom, and inviting them to live in it. "
My observation in life has been that most people read the gospels and somehow translate the story in to a preoccupation with “church”. I would like to believe you, Wayne… just haven’t seen the evidence in most of the Jesus followers.
Its the old adage ‘There’s strength in numbers.’ Or, to put it more bluntly, ‘If I’m going to Hell, at least I will have a lot of company!’
Amazing how people will sacrifice their souls for the sake of others, just to hang on to those things that give them security, in a physical sense, but not a spiritual sense. The institutional church is a perfect foil for one to believe they are on the right track, when in fact, they are going to the wrong station. It takes a personal, one-on-one encounter with Jesus to bring in the Kingdom.
“Our view of “church life” today has far more to do with institutional identity, meetings, rituals, ethics, and doctrines than demonstrating what a community of Godly love looks like. From that foundation, it is difficult to find our way into the reality of Christ’s church. Maybe he didn’t talk so much about the church because it was not the means to his end. What if he know it was simply the fruit of his working and that it takes shape quite easily wherever people learn to follow him.?”
What amazes me is for the amount of people on my Facebook friends list that actually are part of “church”… and I’m not getting much discussion when I post questions like this. I know people are passionate about their beliefs, but I have only gotten consistent feedback from a couple of people and I am concluding that as passionate as some people are… they don’t want to risk having a conversation that might rock their world.
I have found the only people who really want a discussion like this are those who are dissatisfied with or no longer attend a congregation. I don’t think they expect it to rock their world because their world is a comfortable place. When it blows up, however, or when people’s hunger for God exceeds their “church” experience, then they are ready and it is the stuff of personal conversations more than FB discussions.
When I first became a Christian, I leaned on a good friend who was further down the road than me, who I relied on to give me direction on how to live the Christian life. For years I respected his guidance, until I experienced a God invasion and had a growth spurt which put me in a position which I was beyond what he could teach me.
Looking back now, looking at his life, what he considered ‘Christian’, were in fact, very worldly things, like church attendance, marriage, accountability, career, Things that made him look favorable in the world’s eyes, seemingly good things, and what many in the Christian community would consider as necessary elements for a successful Christian life. The tables were turned…when I began to share with him what path God was taking me down, he shied away, became evasive, even dishonest. I lost any sense of fellowship and friendship I once had. There was no turning back.
Jesus never guaranteed this life would be easy, or that there would be support from the Christian establishment. When you look at the fact that his ‘fan base’ was only 12 people, some of which didn’t even give Him their full support, one of which out-and-out betrayed Him, and compare it to the followers of some Christian leaders with numbers in the thousands, its no wonder why someone who is firmly entrenched in the ‘system’ would ever want to give that up, unless God, in His longsuffering persistence, pursues them to the end of their existence.
We spend more time making the Scriptures fit our preconceived view of church, rather than deriving our understanding of church from the Scriptures themselves.
The above quote (7th paragraph in the chapter) stopped me in my tracks. I have a strong desire to read the New Testament (and gospels in particular) with fresh eyes. I am asking God to strip away the last 42 years of my understanding of scripture so that I can read it afresh and without my pre-conceived and pre-learned applications.
Right now I’m following the bible reading plan that takes you through the Bible chronologically. I am so excited to get to to Matthew (in a month or so!). I have recently come across the Passion Translation and want to read at least one of the gospels in this new translation for fresh eyes/mind.
I want to read it for me, but also for other people in my life who are curious/cautious/fearful about this journey we are on. Not to “defend” my position, but to speak about it out of place of understanding of what I’m learning.
Central Valley, CA
I’m finding Heather that it takes time to separate the relationship with Jesus from Christian religion. What I have found most helpful is taking a few years to focus on Jesus in the gospels, reading other portions of scripture, but mostly the gospels during this time, and asking the Holy Spirit to show me Jesus. I got stuck for a while once (months) in John 13 thru 17 and was wondering if I would ever move beyond that passage, it is so rich. There really is no one like Jesus. And if there is anything that has wrecked me for listening to sermons, its listening to Jesus.
Page 44: "…a more powerful kingdom…was making its way into the world through Jesus himself. Proclaiming freedom, offering forgiveness, healing the sick, loving the outcast, and making his home among fallen humanity were signs that the kingdom had already come. Rather than shape our political world, it would transform a new race of men and women to live inside the reality of God in the chaos of a fallen planet." We have succumbed to the desire to impose our morals into/onto our culture, rather than to allow Jesus to love others through us so that they may be drawn to Him.
Page 47: "His kingdom is not a political system nor can it be contained in a religious one. It is a vast network of people, well loved by the Father and, thus, loving others well."
Page 49: “One thing is sure, the heritage Jesus left us is a far better reflection of God’s reality than the two thousand years we’ve spent fighting over doctrine, building cathedrals, fine-tuning our programs and policies, and arrogantly trying to claim our stake of power in the structures of the world.”
And I loved the story of Wayne’s conversation with the atheist. “I think Jesus taught us that we have a Father who loves us more than we know, and if we could sort that out we would know how to treat each other.”
Bob…the gospel of John is my favorite. I am very much looking forward to reading that one. I think I will be circling back to marinate in it more and more.
The realm of Jesus’ kingdom lies in the human heart. It’s currency is not political or economic power, but lives transformed by love, embracing a different set of priorities and a different mission. So despite what Jesus did or did not say to his disciples about the church, he did teach them the power of love and he challenged them to share as freely with the world what love they had received from him. The life of the new creation flows from the Father’s affection.
The chapter goes on from here to speak of the “Atheist” and what came out of his mouth is one of the most warming story.
I think Jesus taught us that we have a Father who loves us more than we know, and if we could sort that out we would know how to treat each other.
I have put all my eggs in one basket with this one idea, "Father loves me" It was an idea and defiantly a hope when I read “He Loves Me.” Today I can say it’s reality in my life and one that wakes me up often with being overwhelmed with His Love. I used to look at long silences with guilt and wondering of what have I done wrong. Today I feel more at rest with trying new things. There is a long way to go and is a very brief way of me saying I’m trying to be lead by the Spirit as I go about my daily life. I have a deep longing to have more fellowship with others on this journey but sadly that is not where Father wants me just yet. There is a lot of changing going on in and with me, so much so, I have my children noticing and that has been a major boost into being happy where my eggs are so ta speak.
By simply allowing Father to love me and building on these experiences is what I believe Jesus was doing with his disciples and is doing with me right here and now. He comes with me everywhere I go, I drive down the road and he’s sitting next to me in the car. The idea started ages ago after I read “The Shack” as I wanted my own conversations with God, I even said that out loud so many times. "I want a conversation Father like Mac had in the shack."
Now when I’m out and about I try to let Father lead me to people who may want a hello and a smile or better still a helping hand.
It was wonderful to read this what I have place as my favoured quote as it has given the encouragement I need to stick with what I have and simply allow Father to build around me, bring across my path as He feels and not try to do as I feel.