Monday, March 4, 2013

Popular as a Skunk at a Picnic

That's what I'm about to set out to be. But then, I'm used to it. I first got wind of my future during my first year in seminary. I had been arguing with a professor, trying to get him to reconcile his theology with the Bible I held in my hand. Finally, in exasperation, he glared at me and demanded, "Why are you such a renegade?"
I'm no artist. I copied
this picture from here.
As I thought about that, I decided it wasn't such a bad thing. In the dictionary, a renegade is defined as "a deserter from one faith, cause, or allegiance to another; an individual who rejects lawful or conventional behavior." I never deserted my faith, but I was definitely rejecting the liberal religion that the school considered to be ""conventional."
Since that time I have often been popular as a skunk at a picnic when gathered together with other clergy or church leaders. I've got this thing about Bible authority, and how anyone can claim to be wise enough to say, "Oh, that doesn't really mean what it says," or "Well, that can't apply to this modern world." You can't pick and choose what to accept in the Bible. It's either all true, the infallible inspired word of God, or it's all just literature. I stand on the word of God option.
Developed nations, especially the United States, are wracked by increasing violent crime, more broken families, lack of moral direction. At the same time, the Church in those same nations is in a free fall. No one can say for sure when and where it started, but it's apparent now. In Europe and the United States, and every developed nation in the world, the Church's membership and attendance are plummeting.
And I know why.
So here I go-- Over however long it takes, I'm gonna raise a stink that the Church can't ignore, and individual believers better investigate.
I'll start gently.
When the Holy Spirit first moved in the first church, Peter got up and preached. And "Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2.41-47)
The Church's mission is in four directions, expressed in four greek words. They all point the same way. All four must be pursued equally. For decades now, the Church as a whole (but, thankfully, not every congregation) has been failing on every point.
The four words are pronounced just like they look:
  • Kerygma - The proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ. "The apostles' teaching," sound doctrine, is rooted in this proclamation. This message is not for the intellect, but for the heart. The Church doesn't preach Christ-only any more.
  • Koinonia - "Fellowship" is being together by intimate participation. Every member-- young or old, man or woman, leader or new convert-- is to have a place and a purpose in the community. But outsiders feel like… well… outsiders.
  • Diakonia - We are called to give to any who have need. We are serve the poor and oppressed, contributing to their care, and building them up. The Church has surrendered this task to the governments, and how they have failed!
  • Liturgia - Worship, or "meeting together" in response to God. A group activity that reflects praise, thanksgiving, requests for need, and turning from sin. I don't know of anyone who has been bored into the Kingdom.
It's time to wake up, Church, and turn around. Oh... by the way... that phrase "turn around?" It's the definition of another unpopular word in the Church: Repent.

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