I’ve heard loads of excuses .. packaged with either spiritual or spiritual sounding sophistication . 🙂 Paul Mayers gets to the point where some might prefer he doesn’t.
Symptom 1: I’d rather do something else on a sunday than going to church
My time is precious and valuable and church just doesn’t really fit into my life easily on a regular basis.
Diagnosis: I find church inconvenient as I have to fit my life around it rather than it nicely falling into a time/place of my own choosing
Treatment:Practice going to church and welcome the inconvenience as a reminder that my life is not just about me doing what I want when I want.
Possible side effects: I have a growing awareness of how often in life I hate it when I’m inconvenienced – traffic queues, slow people with dragging suitcases on wheels, my kids losing the TV remote. I have yet to be tempted to deliberately join the longest check out queue to practice patience but I am swearing a bit less at my fellow motorists.
* * *
Symptom 4: Church is an irrelevant in 21st century for me to have my faith in Jesus
I don’t need a church to help me maintain that faith given the level of resources available and accessible to support me as a christian in 21st century. What is most important therefore is follow Jesus in my life in the mission/call he has given me within my job, friends, family, interests etc.
Diagnosis:My faith has telescoped down to involving me, Jesus and selected others. I am following a consumeristic faith where the Church will still be there if I get into trouble and I can still contribute via purchasing/accessing/creating resources.
Treatment:There are good reasons I dress my choices up in, it allows me to maintain a faith and can also allow me to do what else I am passionate about in my life. I can well find intergrating with a local church difficult as my choice can be limited and the people in it not on my wavelength. Challenge my consumeristic nature by choosing to deliberately get involved and create/give into a community or create that community if it does not exist?
Side effects:I am decreasing my pseudo-holy sounding reasoning – and facing up to doing what I do cos its what I want to do no matter how holy i dress it up to sound. I’ve found that increased participatation has led to more listening rather than spectating and complaining.
There are lines which are applicable over here too!
. Forgive us O Lord, for placing our hope in a person, a system, a government – rather than in you alone.
. Forgive us O Lord, for spending more time and energy thinking about the Empire than the kingdom.
. Forgive us O Lord, for claiming that God is only on "our side."
. Forgive us O Lord, for being more excited to speak to others about our candidate than about our Savior.
Looks like a good combination! I’ve always had difficulty memorizing scripture . but song lyrics that’s easier .
After 8 years this still excites me . in fact, even more!
The church does not do mission, it is mission. By its very calling and nature, it exists as God’s ‘sent’ people (missio = sending). Its worship, its proclamation, its life as a distinctive community, and its concrete demonstration of God’s love in acts of prophetic and sacrificial service are all witness to the good news whose sign and foretaste it is to be.
This will capture the attention of some friends 🙂
Well, to my surprise, my answer seemed to hit a nerve and the moderator (a professor named Adam) jumped in and pressed me further on my view of the atonement. This then got us talking about the Penal Substitution view of the atonement and my problems with it. Among other things, I don’t think it’s particularly helpful, or biblical, to think that the Father had to vent his wrath against sin on Jesus in order to forgive us. (For other criticisms, see my response to the Penal Substitution view in the “Jesus: Atonement” category of the Q & A section of this web site). We bantered back and forth a bit, but it’s the discussion I had with Adam after the debate that I found especially enlightening.
It turned out that Adam, who had defended the view that Jesus’ work on the cross appeased the Father’s wrath, agreed with me that the Father wasn’t wrathful toward Jesus. It’s just that God’s wrath against sin was expressed by him delivering Christ up to the Powers in our place. Sin was judged and Christ was our substitute – hence,Penal Substitution. Adam informed me that this is basically the view of Karl Barth, expressed in his Church Dogmatics (which I will now certainly have to look into). Well, I replied, if that’s what you mean by the Penal Substitution view of the atonement, consider me a card carrying member!
And notice, this version of Penal Substitution is not only compatible with the Christus Victor view of the atonement (the view that the main thing Jesus did on Calvary was defeat the devil and free us from his oppression): it actually presupposes it. So, without retracting any of my criticism of the view that God needs to vent his wrath against Jesus in order to forgive us, maybe I can now espouse a Christus Victor Penal Substitution view of the atonement.