“But this revolution of faith is challenged. Those involved know what they are shifting from—lifeless, institutional forms of faith to breakthrough. But what are they shifting to? House churches, marketplace ministries, cyberchurches, independent community wide worship gatherings, intentional communities. These forms of church are all intriguing, but do they really represent a meaningful step toward God’s highest purpose? Or are they just the same stuff presented in a different setting? Are they developing the same roles, but attaching new titles adopted by different role players? Are we living ina culture that is so infatuated with change that we have forgotten that the church is about transformation, not mere change?” (xxvi)
What would you do if God told you to tell someone on the corner that God loves them? The person is a stranger and it’s quite counter-cultural to actually stop a tourist to say something like that. When my friend told me that story, I remembered The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken.
Many stories of God using people to answer other people’s prayers pepper Nik’s book. Our Americanized faith somehow makes us pragmatic. My friend’s story woke me again to the realization that God is not dead, but some of us feel dead. I’m reading Pagan Christianity? By Frank Viola and George Barna. Another friend loaned it to me. In it, they speak about how the Christian faith is under a silent revolution, but mere change is what they accomplish instead of transformation.
“Much can be gleaned from the efforts of the earliest Christianity—our physical and spiritual ancestors—as they sought to be the genuine church Christ purchased with His blood.” it said in the pages of the introduction.
Socrates, who challenged people by asking too many questions, said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Accused of corrupting the youth of his time the Roman government sentenced him to death. Socrates asked many questions, challenging the traditions of his time. Pagan Christianity? Is not an anti-church book, but is the anti-anti church bashing book so far. Rather it will explore the roots of our church practices. I am reading it slowly as my prayer is to have a closer and stronger relationship with God. My friends teach me by the examples of their lives what that should look like.
I pray all of you have those kind of friends who inspire you to better, more godly things and choices. I believe church can make a difference, but I also see the searching hearts of people wanting something different in church. What I found in my search is that prayer brings me closer to God. What I liked about this book so far is that it does not encourage rebellion against the church.
“Our advice: Either leave your church quietly, refusing to cause division, or be at peace with it. There is a vast gulf between rebellion and taking a stand for what is true.” (pg. 5)
Some think by speaking out and causing division that they are being like Jesus when Jesus overturned the money changer tables. I believe, if you want change, that change happens beginning in a whisper, by an example, and with persistance. It means entering into discussion, not with loud shouts and rude comments, but like Socrates—asking questions. Perhaps by asking questions, we may find unexpected answers. God does answer prayer in supernatural forms.
I’ve seen it.
But sometimes in our everyday American life, we forget that the world does not depend upon us or what we do. God is in control. I know this, but reminders come to me in every form. Those God moments where He not so gently reminds us we are not the Messiah. Case in point, my friend risked rejection, embarrassment, and told a stranger that God loved her. The stranger needed to hear it and burst into tears after a long silence. God used my friend to reach someone who isn’t a local and showed that He is indeed very present in our lives. The change we seek is in ourselves and even when God uses us to help someone else, change always happens inside of us in that moment. Perhaps it’s not the church that needs to change, but me and you?
I want to be used by God even if that means discipline or self-denial. I can’t wait to read the rest of this book.
What do you think about my thoughts?