We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and became Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own………Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions.
There are several things that trouble about me these statements. The first is the concept of ‘changing the way we do church’, as if church were a man-made institution that are we free to ‘do with’ what we will. As Todd Wilken (Lutheran pastor and host of Issues) has frequently said, “We did not invent church, nor are we free to reinvent it”. I guess the fundamental question then must be asked. What is church? Ask ten christians that question today and you are likely to get ten different answers. But really, what is church? What is its’ mission and purpose? Can we make it into anything we want? Should it be culturally relevant? Should it be ‘marketed’? Has it become just another casualty of modern capitalism? Arthur Just was recently on Issues talking about true christian worship. He reminds us that from earliest times, even in ancient Judaism, worship was centered on teaching followed by eating (what we call Word and Sacrament). These structures of worship continued even during the time of Jesus in the feeding of the 5000, the Last Supper, and in the Acts 2 church;
Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, and to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews said, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them…..The one who eats this bread will live forever.”When many of the disciples heard this, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”
His words seem so clear. He has given us our sustenance. In His very Word and in His very body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. I agree with the disciples. This teaching is difficult and there isn’t one Sunday when I approach the rail for communion that I wonder, ‘Can this really be true’. I can only accept it on faith. I can only take Him at His word.