“The United States is home to an increasing number of Revolutionaries. These people are devout followers of Jesus Christ who are serious about their faith, who are constantly worshipping and interacting with God, and whose lives are centered on their belief in Christ. Some of them are aligned with a congregational church, but many of them are not. The key to understanding Revolutionaries is not what church they attend, or even if they attend. Instead, it’s their complete dedication to being thoroughly Christian by viewing every moment of life through a spiritual lens and making every decision in light of biblical principles. These are individuals who are determined to glorify God every day through every thought, word, and deed in their lives” (Barna, 8).
The above quote comes from the book Revolution by George Barna. I have just started this book. In fact, I am currently literally just a few lines past the above quote. But, it is already making me think. Barna hits on something that is very close to my heart: the importance of being a deeply committed Christian. A deeply committed Christian is definitely someone whose life is “centered on their belief in Christ” and who makes “every decision in light of biblical principles.” But is it possible to be a deeply committed Christian without being deeply committed to Christ’s church? And what is going on with the church that so many deeply committed Christians can’t find a church that encourages them in their desire to live lives dedicated to serving and following the Lord?
To respond to the first half of your question I thought of these scriptures. (ESV)
1 Jn 2:9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
1 Jn 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.
You are quite right. It is impossible to separate Christ from His body. In fact those who do are warned by Paul in 1 Cor 11:29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
To me baptism is a great illustration of that union.
As for the second part of your question, the short answer is that too many congregations are operating as organizations rather than organisms. We are looking to the power of types of administration, structure, models, government, corporate policy, etc… to make a difference in our life thinking that if we just have the correct pattern working in our church things will go better. All the while making no use of the power of the risen Christ. Our very vocabulary gives us away. Do we join a church or are we joined to a church? Do I become a member or was I born a member?
The long answer is more discouraging to me. We (American Christianity) have embraced worldliness. We tolerate leaders such as Hophni and Phinehas who take the fat from the Lord and sleep with the women of their congregation. Who make gain their god. I fear that many churches are giving birth to Ichabods as a result.
Character is the key. Follow me as I follow Christ is what Paul told us. If I see a leader demonstrating Christ’s life I will follow. What confuses us is that we don’t always look at character. We look at correctness of speech, commonness of ideals & goals, thinking those are the same thing as character. How can you tell if I have died to myself? By my willingness to die for my brothers. There is no other narrow way.
Kevin Watson said:
thanks again for your thoughts. you make some very interesting points. i am especially challenged by your discussion of the importance of solid character in those who would try to point others to the Risen Christ.