Thursday, February 11, 2016
In 1992 I spoke to a Russian University English class. I briefly told why I was there. One young man asked, “We already have the Russian Orthodox Church, why do we need an American one?”
That Russian student may have been closer to the truth than either he or I comprehended. Some missionaries go into a country to teach their peculiar brand of Christianity as if that is the apostolic doctrine mention by Luke in Acts 2:42. Others are more wed to their church, than they are to Christ! “Churchianity” is more popular than Christianity. Some go to Americanize rather than teach Jesus and him crucified (Acts 8:35).
One can find congregations which have taken on the personality and peculiar beliefs of those who started them. This oddity is not restricted to the few! Have you ever heard, “Well, that’s not the way brother Somebody did it”? Even some preachers have had their “of Paul” or “of Apollos” followers, leading to a destroyed fellowship, birthing of new churches, and exalted claims of being closer to Jesus than those they left!
Today’s church is no different from those which existed in the first century. A congregation, like a chain, is as strong as its weakest link. The problem is that all links are weak (Romans 3:10, 23)! Shouldn’t our assemblies encourage, strengthen, and instill us with boldness (Acts 4:23-31)? Shouldn’t they be a place where we can openly speak, teach, and admonish one another? A place where we are comforted? Yet one where our status quo is challenged (Acts 5:1-11)? We expect the preacher to fill that void in thirty minutes and when he doesn’t, we wash our hands by charging him with failure! Some Bible classes fill that need when people open up and talk about their short comings. People speak to one another. They encourage one another. They comfort one another. Confession is our talk (James 5:16)! We all have struggles and through speaking one to another, realize we are all fellow travelers seeking redemption through Jesus. Yet, the modern view of worship negates that kind of openness. It is not the tradition of our fathers! It is not the American way.