Posted by: mybroom | July 22, 2013

What does the church do?

I’ve been kicking around the subject of  whether the Christian church resembles the blueprint Christ had in mind…. the ramblings continue.

A few days ago I made the statement; “The whole purpose of the cross of Christ was to removed from us this flesh-based existence. The whole purpose of the cross was to re-connect us to Christ ~ Hardwire us to Him, as opposed to merely a battery back-up. The whole purpose of the cross was to destroy the good v. evil modus-operandi that defined our being, and return us to an existence that has its source and sustenance in Christ… not self“.

It’s not my intention to have a church-bashing session but rather to apply some thinking to ‘us’ the church… to take our pulse if you like, just to check that we are actually alive.

Lets go back a step to the Old Covenant – it was based on mans ability to satisfy God by completing various sacrifices, participation in activities and generally living a lifestyle of religious merit. Enter the New Covenant – Christ became the sacrifice, and fulfilled all righteousness on our behalf… How does one build Christianity out of that??

There is nothing left to do, all of the expectations that God has of us have been fully satisfied in Christ. But how do we construct a way of practicing our faith, when there is nothing to do… in other words, how do we move from an ‘activity based’ religion to a ‘faith based’ one.

Our natural instinct wants to do something, to get involved, to contribute…. it makes sense; there is so much to do, lots of needs, programs and ministries. And so we throw ourselves headlong into the stuff of church just because it’s what the culture does, we don’t even think about it… we just get caught up in the activities and the causes – it must be right because everyone is doing it, and besides it gives us a sense of identity.

Dont get me wrong; I’m not saying that there shouldnt be any activity… I guess what I am saying is this; “The activities should be the overflow of having personally discovered the wonder of knowing Christ, not the means of attaining it“.

Returning to my initial statement at the top of the page about ‘the flesh’. The flesh is defined by its self-based existence, the flesh does not grasp the difference between self-based and overflow-based activities because it is unable to perceive the life of the Spirit. The flesh finds meaning in participating in activities… the spirit can only find meaning in participating in Christ’s activities.

It is for this reason that we ‘the church’ must break free of the gravitational pull of our compulsion to do. We must step back and take the time to properly learn what Christ has done – with the ultimate overflow that we begin to walk in the good works prepared for us since the beginning of time.

The notion that the flesh and the spirit are compatible bed-fellows is our downfall. We relate to Christianity from the perspective of giving back, service, following the example of Christ (what could be more noble)…. but there is something more noble “Christ doesn’t want us to live for him, He wants to live in us”. Thats why Gal. 2:20 ‘I have been crucified with Christ’ is such an important scripture, Christ doesn’t want our service, He want to kill us, take over our bodies, and live in us by the power of His Spirit.

The only way forward as I see it, is to get a full revelation of the work that Christ completed on the cross… without such a revelation we will default to works of the flesh…. yet with this revelation the way of the Spirit is finally realised. Perhaps our biggest mistake has been to usher people passed the cross too hurriedly, perhaps we should have lingered there and grasped that Christ came to destroy the flesh – not give it a purpose.

In the end it all seems to come down to whether we are willing to place faith in the works of Christ alone, or continue to mix His works and ours in a cocktail of religious living.

It’s funny that the church seems to have become more defined by the overflow than the object Himself. The overflow is good if it flows from the joy of living by faith, free of the obligations of the law… it is bad if it is our attempt to draw close to God.

What do you think?   cheers Graeme

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Responses

  1. It’s cool I ran across this today. Everything you wrote totally adds up to me. I don’t know what to add to it. I know there’s a lot of resistance to the message of grace as you’ve written it. I’m new to understanding God’s grace and I’m finding that people are threatened that I’m experiencing the peace/joy I am now but I look more like a slacker to them. My wife is threatened, I believe. We can’t really talk about it in a real connecting way.

    • Hi Rick, good to meet you.
      You are right, there is a lot of resistence to the grace message because many religious folk perceive it as a licence to be idle. In fact it’s got very little to do with “what we do” because the gospel is all about what Christ did. Grace is not a licence to be idle, its the beginning of a journey into living in the Spirit – (which is anything but idle) – more akin to joy and life bubbling up out of our inner being producing great works of love and life.

      My wife and I are on this journey together. It took us a little while to get in step so be patient and rest in the Lords ability to reveal Himself to your wife. The day will come when you will both share the wonder of Gods goodness and grace in a spontaneous and continual conversation. I guess people are threatened by what they dont understand, the best thing you can do is rest in the revelation you have.

      cheers Graeme

  2. Hi Graeme, this is a tension that I mentally kick around often. I completely agree that the finished work of Christ is the whole story. We add nothing and gain everything in Him. Yet, when we are in Christ we are changed and our behaviors, passions, and attitudes also demonstrably change. I’ve seen churches that rightly emphasize the supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ and faithfully teach the Word but it is all personal and internal. Not much action. On the other hand are churches I’ve also experienced that are all about the action, motivated by faith, but neglect the transformative truth of the cross. One is over-fed and out-of-shape while the other is hyper-active and could use a good hearty meal and some rest. The question I often ponder is, why do we tend toward these extremes? We should rest in Christ, be fed with transformative truth, and then express it in action. We must be filled from the inside out, but in my humble opinion there should be an overflow. Thanks, as always, for bringing us back to the centrality of Christ Graeme.

    • My feeling is that these extremes are both the result of the same issue – the flesh. In a way that are indulgences of the flesh (tho’ poles apart) at the expense of faith in Christ. Ultimately Christianity is not primarily about what we do, but faith in what Christ has done – either extreme still seems to be bogged down in what we do/dont do. And without a revelation of the magnificence of the cross its all we have got. I agree there must be an outflow (overflow), Paul is a great example of one who saw the wonder of Christ and was compelled by that revelation to give himself to the gospel.
      Good talking Judy, cheers G


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