Every year I think to myself, “Will this be the year when hearts and minds awaken to a new image of the church universal?” I hope so, but reality suggests that this year will go by just like the ones before it. A lot of talk about the need for change, but no concrete steps taken, and no apparent interest in discussing the organizational vision Jesus first demonstrated, namely, The Way of human net making.
Christianity, as it has been practiced, is so lost in the muck and mire of human ego, human empire, and the lies that time has told to the human spirit. Her state of “lostness” is the reason many people have given up on the church as an organized body of believers. Many no longer want to claim a Christian identity because the institution, as her past and present image functioned in the world, has failed them in the following ways:
- Failed to deliver the Gospel message of Jesus Christ through non-violent teaching that made sense.
- Failed to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven in a substantive, noticeable, life-changing way for the masses.
- Failed to stop violence and increase positive spiritual energy in ways that are relevant for today’s world.
I get it. I understand.
But I can’t give up on the church. Not because I want to support her past or present image. I can’t, I don’t, and I won’t. Her present image must surely die and, to be honest, her death can’t come soon enough for me.
But I can’t give up on the church because I know who and what she could be. It is on behalf of her future potential that I speak.
If her future image is to become reality on the earth, the following things must take place in order to bring about a death, a burial, a resurrection, and a newly transfigured life for the church universal.
1. The church’s past teachings must be examined. We must separate wheat from weed regarding the Gospel message that has traditionally been preached. In its place, we must teach a non-violent perspective of God and the Gospel. All that is weed in the church’s theological garden must be thrown into God’s holy fire and burned. That is the task at hand. Discernment is a slow task and the church universal is presently on her hands and knees, discerning wheat from weed in her garden.
2. The church’s organizational structure must be examined. Her image must be flattened so that no human being is elevated above another if she is to truly reflect the kingdom of heaven on earth. Her organization’s highest priority must be inverted to meet human need, first. Singing the praises of God, and fellowshipping with other like-minded people on a Sunday morning must be demoted to the lowest priority as long as there remains unmet human need in one’s community. Therefore, a complete inversion of church activity must take place. When the church inverts her priority away from worship/fellowship and toward meeting human need, the world will automatically see the church worshipping God.
The structural flattening of the church and a re-prioritizing of her focus are two tasks that demand a “letting go” of the church’s present structural image and function. So, we shouldn’t be surprised to see people literally jumping ship and swimming to unfamiliar places. It is the very exodus away from organized religion to which God is calling frustrated, disheartened, listening souls.
Yet it isn’t organization, per se, that people are fleeing. Instead, they are fleeing dysfunctional organization! Only when the current vessel is abandoned by everyone presently trying to keep her afloat, will the church universal be ready to bury her past image and begin her resurrection to a new life.
3. The church’s desire to stop violence and increase positive spiritual energy in ways that are relevant in today’s world can only happen after tasks 1. and 2. are completed.
“Will this be the year when hearts and minds awaken to a new image of the church universal?”
“Will this be the year when hearts and minds embrace the idea of human net-making as the Way of Christ?”
Probably not. But we will be one year closer than we were last year at this time.