A thought just occurred to me. Our sermon series "ReThink Church" is 2 weeks in and I am enjoying taking a fresh look at the life, mission and structure of the Church as we go back to the one source that knows everything about the Church ... Jesus. but as I look at that word "ReThink" I can't help but ask the question ... "Did we really think about things Biblically as the Church (as we know it) was started?" Or maybe another question ... "Do we view 'doing church' as just continuing what we have been taught or are we really ready to go all the way back to Jesus as we "ReThink?"
When I look at my personal history as a church-goer I must confess that Jesus has somehow connected with me in spite ... not because ... of some of my church-related experiences. These include some really bad theology in the first church I ever attended, very little Jesus-focus in those first years and some trips through some very comfortable congregations that loved to come on Sunday but saw "church" as something that happened between 9-NOON on Sunday. I watched supposedly religious people argue over things that have no eternal significance. I experienced persecution inside the church because I thought teaching about Jesus was more important than the location of a coffee pot. I have seen politics, a variety of "isms" and non-Biblical separatism lead church decisions (usually ending bad for everyone involved). I trudged through working with a combative and irrational pastor that was totally self-absorbed. I had church members that were openly racist. One would think that all of these things would cause me to throw up my hands and say, "It's not worth it!" But then I ReThought about what was really going on.
Life in the Church is filled with lots of negatives but the one positive outweighs everything I just said above. It is that little word, Jesus. Jesus ordained the Church in the first place. Jesus lived and died so that His Bride (the Church) could be sent into the world as His presence and witness to a lost world. Jesus gave the Church His authority to make a difference in the world. Jesus worked with messed up people He called His disciples. Jesus called us the Ecclesia (the called-out and sent-out ones). Jesus showed us the path of forgiveness and salvation and said the Church was a means of grace by which folks (all folks) could come to know Him. Jesus must have thought that Church was a good idea ... and that negates any of the messups I stated in the previous paragraph.
I will be ReThinking Church as I reflect on the rest of this sermon series. I will pray we will learn from our mistakes and place them in the past. I will ask those people at Abbeville UMC to become willing to continue good practices from the past, throw away the things that didn't work or were not Biblical, become a means of God's grace to introduce Jesus to all that we meet and continually pray for God's leading so that we remain Jesus' Church, not "our" church. Jesus somehow got me safe thus far and Jesus will lead me home. Randy