Facing the Problems
Could it be that the message is wrong?
Are individual believers truly called and commissioned by Christ? Are we all to take the message of the kingdom out into the world? Are we all called to proclaim good news? Does the Lord give each of us authority to cast out demons, heal the sick, and set the captives free (Luke 9)? A careful reading of the book of the gospels makes that conclusion inescapable. We really are called and appointed as servants of the New Covenant. We are all priests of Christ (Hebrews) seated with Him in the heavenlies (Eph.1!) and He has given us His authority (!).
If the problem isn’t with the hearers, and if the message itself is true…then the problem must be either with God or with the messenger, right?
Or is there another alternative? Is the problem with the church system as we know it, this institution which has been around since at least the time of Constantine.
Recently I read Gilbert Bilezikian’s “Community 101.” In his book he states that, “An increasing number of Christians are waking up to the fact that .. the church has become ineffective in fulfilling its mission because it has lost a sense of its own identity as a community. They realize that not every organization that calls itself a church represents the church as Christ conceived it.” He goes on to say that he asked fifty junior and senior college students to write a one sentence definition of the church. He continues,
“Their answers varied from “people who are saved,” and “places of worship” to “opportunity to put on a Sunday disguise” and “sanctified gossip centers.” Not one described the church in terms of community or oneness. It occurred to me that these people had been nurtured in the church without ever understanding the nature of their experience. The church was for them a habit without definition.
They had been trained to do church or play church instead of BEING the church. Is it any wonder that they, like their parents before them, perpetuate the survival of floundering, self absorbed, defensive, stagnant, if not repressive pseudo-churches, thinking all along that they are doing God’s work? Is it any wonder that the world should dismiss the church as irrelevant, treat it as a laughing stock, and view it as a farce instead of a force?” Zondervan, 1997, pp.48-49
Please note an important distinction. The problem is not with “the church” per se. The church is both wheat and tares. The kingdom is like leaven in a lump, it is an invisible reality that sometimes becomes visible. It exists in the hearts of people who are born again and joined together by a bond in the Spirit. The real Temple is composed of living stones.
But the church SYSTEM is a human organization built by man.