What is the Church?…

Recently I was approached to discuss and defend my political viewpoint in light of my theological perspective.  This aquantance doesn’t have the ability to couple a Christ follower the opportunity to be anything but a conservative Republican.  My present beliefs and lifestyle hopefully represent consistencies formed from years of learning, mistakes, and values.  These beliefs certainly are polar to what I accepted and practiced in my younger and less evolved life.

We agreed to have a civil discourse dealing with certain topics without need for debate, just plain discussion for the purpose of understanding each other.  I respect the willingness of my friend to comprehend other viewpoints and hopefully this will stay civil.  I personally feel no compulsion to persuade others to my belief system, especially dealing with politics.  There is no right answer, no right side to align with, no need for us versus them.  We each come to the place of understanding having walked divergent roads of growth and experience.  Therefore expecting each of us to completely agree seems fool-hearty at best.

The first question posed to me asked what is the purpose of the church?  A rather open ended question that leaves much room for opinion. 

Here is what I wrote…

In short the purpose of the church should encompass providing a sanctuary of hope and healing for the lost and hurting.  A place where action impacting the community near us and and the world around us is initiated and continued.  A safe haven of rest where the outcast of society are able to find refuge.  A locale of challenge for believers to walk more in the true image of the Christ.

I don’t feel the church is an induction station or boot camp preparing for battle.  I find the analogy of warfare offensive.  The church is about mobilizing its people to be lovers of other people.  Just like Jesus taught.  Loving people implies not killing them with hateful attitudes and actions.  Love is the overarching theme of the bible, not judgement.

The church, to me, is not looking for complete obedience to it whereby acceptance is granted to only those who willingly comply.  Individuality is what drives the healthy church.  The collective gathering of differences sharing the cause of kindness is what makes church so meaningful.  I feel no need to act like everyone else, look like everyone else, nor believe like everyone else.  I find no calling in scripture to enter into a personal cloning program.

Relationship forces us to encounter contact with Christ in a much more personal manner than rules could ever hope for.  Rules, especially one devised for the purpose of control, force us to withdraw from relationship and focus on a tally system of merit.  This is not my understanding of grace.

The church should be a place where ALL are welcome, loved , and accepted.  This is the responsibility of the bride-this is the promise of the bride.  We come as life finds us…filthy, unworthy, and in great need.  Each of us a sinner in desperate need of grace.  At no time is sin ever detailed by degrees of shame or offense.  All sin is equally problematic.  No sin worse than any other.

I understand the need to shower first before getting into a pool.  I do not understand the thinking that demands we come to the church already clean.  Besides, who are we cleaning up for?

When the church spends its time focusing on particular sins and grossly overlooking others—then the church has simply lost its way.

Actually when the church casts more care on shortcomings of others instead of sharing compassion and understanding then it truely has lost its way.

I tend to ramble.

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2 Comments

  1. nix09 said,

    September 22, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    great!

  2. mom said,

    September 22, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    What are the other questions which you were asked and your answers?? This one is thought provoking. Never thought that religion caused a disease called Republican though.


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