Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The church as a community

Last night, I was talking with a group of guys about the subject of the American church and what is has become.  Most would agree that the "church" as a whole has become very much like a business and a lot less like a community.  I say less like a community, because the original followers of Christ were very much a community and very much lived that way. 

Honestly, I think there are certain parts of a community that need to function like a business.  A community needs to have a leader, a community has to have a common goal, a community needs to be organized, a community needs people. However, when you look at the church as a business people begin to see it either in a consumerist mindset or a sales mindset.  They either want something from the church or they want to sell their church to someone else.  In reality, a church should be run like a community in which people look after each other, are honest with each other, and strive to strengthen the community not so that it can be sold or so that they can get more, but because it moves them toward the common goal.

The one aspect I wanted to touch on today was the idea of community and being honest with one another.  As I was thinking about my own family and how in a since we are our own community.  Within that community honesty is important.  God calls us to be honest with one another.  When you are honest, the struggles in your life will become known to those you are honest with.  Once they are known, others can keep you accountable.  Once you have others to keep you accountable, you have no justification for failure.

Let me give you an example.

If I struggle with lying and I confess to my wife about my past lies it is going to hurt her.  From that point on, however, I will have to earn back her trust an in order to do so, I will have to be accountable to her.  If I truly love her, I will be honest with her and choose to tell her the truth as to not hurt her, earn back her trust, and to express my love for her.  With that accountability, I cannot fail. If I fail, I am not showing her love and I could ultimately lose her.

I think the same thing goes for our church community.  We are called to honest with one another so that we can hold each other accountable.  We should judge one another and express our concerns with each other when we see someone we are to keep accountable stumbling.  We don't want them to fail, just as we don't want to fail.  We want to help everyone to reach that common goal.

I think all too often we get hung up in going and participating in churches that want to look like communities, but  people refuse to be a part of one.  It's easy to pretend things are great and not worry about telling people who you really are and what you are struggling with.  However, just like any other community that can only last so long before all is lost.  There really isn't a community has all become....a business.....I get what I want and the church sells what it is selling.

I've had this idea for a few years of living in a community with other believers.  A community in which, like the early church, people take care of each other, live in close proximity to one another, and invest daily in each other.  To live like that, most often you would be called a cult, radical, or weirdos.  Wasn't the original church somewhat considered the same thing?  Weren't they hunted because they were a "cult" of that day.  They were going against what was socially accepted at that time.  Maybe.....just maybe....things could be different.  Is it too hard to change?  Is it possible to change?  Can one living in a community like that survive our culture?  Has our view of what a church is become so corrupt in our minds that we no long recognize what it really is?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.  For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. -Romans 8:18-25

I spent a lot of time thinking over the last few months. If you followed my blog at all in the past you will know that I quit posting about 3 months ago. As I was thinking last night I finally realized what was different in months prior than the last few months.  Over the last few months I began to lose hope in various situations in my life.

I didn't lose hope in God (at least not in the sense of being saved), nor did I lose hope in my family.  It wasn't even a sense of lost hope in life to a point of depression.  Rather it was a loss of hope in individuals.  A loss of hope in circumstances. A loss of hope in rectified situations.  A loss of hope in certain things would change.

When you remove a man's hope, you remove a big part of his ability to function.  I tried hard not to lose my ability to be a good husband and a loving father. I knew I couldn't completely resolve to complete abandonment of responsibility.

I've heard it said before that we shouldn't place our hope in people.  I agree, but sometimes....sometimes I wish we could hope that people would change....that they would chose to change.  I know in my heart that really anytime any of us change for the better, it is because God is doing something in us. We are not really creating the change, but rather allowing God to change us.  It's just hard when situations don't change...circumstances don't change.  After a while... it is easy to lose hope.  It's easy to lose hope in things we can't see.  It's easy to lose hope when you can't see the future or know what the future might hold. 

I can see why Paul tells us to have perseverance and to wait eagerly.  He knew it would be hard, but he also knew the end result would be great.

Every once in a while I have to go back and watch the section of my last blog that I have shared below.  It was a video by Zack Arias.  While a big portion of the video is about photography, I see a great deal of the concept of hope within it.  I don't know if he is a Christian or not, but the video sure reminds me of the hope that I can have.

I don't really have a plan as to where to go with this realization of lost hope.  I know it will be a  process of learning and trusting again.  I also know that I don't want to stay where I am at and that I want God to continue to show me new things in my life.