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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

XCVIII. Quid est Ecclesia?

What is the Church?
 
Old Testament terminology equates it to the Temple.  The first temple was the Tabernacle or the Tent of Meeting.  Everywhere the Jewish nation went they would set up a place to where the priests and Moses could go to God and talk to Him, sacrifice, pray, and worship God.  When the physical Temple was built by Solomon all of the symbols and items from the Tabernacle were placed inside, most importantly the Ark placed behind the Veil.  The Temple was divided into parts.  Depending on who or what you are is where you could go inside the Temple.  But only those close enough to God were allowed to go behind the Veil, the curtain that symbolicaaly separates man from God, which Jesus's death caused to be torn in two.  For more information on the temple see http://ideasoftimreligion.blogspot.com/2008/08/iv-worship.html.  The point here being that no matter where God's people are there is God as well, permanently.
 
New Testament terminology equates it to us.  This new temple is what we are.  The Church are not individuals though.  The Church is a body.  Some are hands.  Some are feet.  Some are speakers.  Some are seers.  But these both have something in common and its the same connection the Old Testament Temple had; God is always there.  And if God is always there how can you let worldly ideas and actions into the Church and/or Temple?

Keep in mind, the church is not the Church.  Small "c" means thet building.  Capital "C" means Christ's body.
 
The Church is suppose to be:
  1. Spirit-led, not man-led
  2. Glorifying God, not humanistic
  3. Use of gifts to help serve people and God, not show casing human ability
  4. Holy, not worldly
  5. An organism, not an organization
  6. Loving, compassionate, hospitable
  7. Witnesses!
But what has the Church become?
  1. Leaders with egos that can not see past their own accomplishments to see the hurt in some.
  2. Worried about growth in numbers instead of growth in spirit.
  3. Entertainment focused and "jamming" instead of true worship (putting God first).
  4. Lost in culture and becoming immune to the world's sickness.
  5. Business and less personal, more worried about reputation than character
  6. Divided, hypocritical, worried about reputation instead of character
  7. Bad examples because the world sees no difference between living a Christian life and a non-Christian life.
The Church is supposed to be separate from the world for we are not part of this world.  Yes, we have to live in it and deal with it but nowhere in the Bible does it say we are to become part of it.  The book Animal Farm, although not about Christianity, ends exactly the way what the Church has become.
  • "Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike.  No question now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs.  The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to, and from pig to man again but already it was impossible to say which was which."
The pigs who were supposed to be different and make a change ended up taking on what the humans were doing and in the end became just as bad as humans.  Now, we are all sinners, so do not take away from this Thought that Christians are "better".  That is far from the truth.  What it is saying is we are supposed to act better.  We are supposed to change the world.  But the Church has become so liberal and weak, has watered down the message of Christ so much, has lost the true meaning of worship so much, that the culture ended up changing it.  We have allowed the culture to change sermons, our service to people, our charity, our education, and the worst is we allowed it to change our worship.  A non-Christian would say that is a good thing because it would make the Church easier to deal with.  But due to this changing the Church has become insincere and less relevant to this world.  Ask Europe.  http://ideasoftimreligion.blogspot.com/2008/10/xiii-church-of-culture.html
 
Yet, the big problem is those who are supposed to be temples do not live holy and don't see the problem.  They want to justify their own beliefs and actions.  Church leaders get egos and prideful and blinded.  They look for validation from friends and family.  The people find excuses to not live outside the culture.  The Church is dying because it is not being the Church.  The Church is supposed to be a witness to the world.  The Temple (you) is with God always.  So, how can we as the Church as a whole or as an individual Temple allow the culture inside?

And the last thing, the Church is not INSIDE a building.  It goes OUT to the world.  Too many people think the church building is the place to get saved.  No, technically the church building is for the Church.  You get saved in your heart, not a building.  But still the church building is there for a reason as well.  It is a place of worship and education but it is also a place where people can feel safe and comforted; a haven, if you will.  The building is a symbol of where someone cango who is feeling down and out because the world has beaten up on them.  When people come into the church building they want to feel safe.  They want to forget their troubles that the world and culture has caused them.  Yet, what does the Church offer?  Programs, sermons, and worship that is filled with the same culture that destroyed the individual in the first place, and mostly just to get a good reputation in the community.  It's like an alcoholic goes to church and the Church offers them a drink and people think the church is cool then.
 
After reading this many will try and rationalize that reaching the culture means we have to use their ways to bring them in. Jesus went into the culture, He did not become part of it. This is not to say that church buildings cannot hold fun events and be entertaining to crowds. But the event has to be real and sincere, it is not a place to showcase one's talents for their own glory.  Coffee and donuts never saved anyone.  How far can worship service use secular ideas before true worship is sacrificed?  Where is the line?  Answer:  it should stay out as a piece of worship, unless there is a point to it.

Other Thoughts you need to read for more explanation:

7 comments:

CCCfriend said...

Tim,

Very thought provoking. I agree that the Church has become stagnant and almost irrelevant. The leaders can't see past their own egos. All they want to focus on is what they feel makes them look good. If you ever bring up something they need to work on or tell them something needs changed they become very defensive and outright mean. You can see the world come out in them at that point. I get kind of sick of it.

Gozreht said...

Thanks "friend".

The main problem is the ones in leadership can't seem to look from the pew, so to speak. They see through blinders what is done and they can't see the point of view from the congregation anymore. And that is typical, usual, and normal. Any thing you question becomes a personal issue with them like it is a personal attack. the egos really come out at that point. The good news is, they are all really great people and really love God. Stay positive, hopefully you will stay at CCC.

Phil Fairchild said...

Excellent article Tim. The goal is to create an atmosphere where people sense God's presence and respond to Him. A secular song could be used as a segway but we are there to worship God and visitors know that and though they desire to be comfortable and accepted by us, they do expect us to be different from the world and desire to meet this God who has changed us...biblical worship is the answer.

Patsy said...

The church is supposed to be a haven from the outside world where you come to learn and reflect and worship God. When you play secular music, you take the focus off of God. You invite the outside world in to distract from the purpose of why we go to church. As a musician you find a rhythm or a cord that catches your attention, and to you it may just be a cool rhythm, because for you it’s about the music and the sound and the notes, but to others, it stands for the artist whose music it is. It reminds them of that artist, they start to think about that artist and not about God who they should be focusing on. Who are we worshiping? God, or the secular artist whose music this is? Because if thoughts are straying to that artist and taking focus off God, we are not worshiping God.



Playing secular music cheapens worship and makes it not about God, but about the world. Music that was written by Christian artists was written out of their love for God, and their desire to worship him. Most secular music is written for the love of money, and the thoughts that went into writing it were mostly centered on sex and drugs. Do you really think that has a place in the church? Is that what you want people to reflect on as they worship God? Would God want that music in his house? Music has connotations outside of just the notes and the rhythm. What message do you really want to send? The world get’s to influence people six days a week, shall we give at least one day to God?

Chris Dorsten said...

Hey Tim! I really enjoy how passionate you are about what you write. I think there is a lot we'd agree on, and a lot we would disagree on. On both sides of that equation, there is a lot of perspective to chew on for sure! I'm adding your blog to my list of ones to keep up with. Its always good for me to hear from people who are in different seasons of life and frames of thinking than me.

Without diving into the musical aspects of what you're writing about here, I'm right there with you with my frustrations with church leaders. Me being one of them, I know sometimes I'm like the pot calling the kettle black. Not sure how God uses any of us in leadership really! Haha. Only in God's kingdom would He opt to someone prideful and broken like me.

I'd love if it you read my thoughts about Church structure and politics. I think we're in alignment on a lot of things there! http://www.chrisdorsten.com/2013/05/corporate-body.html

Have a great day!

Gozreht said...

Thanks Chris for adding your perspective.

I need to clarify one thing for everybody and Chris just reminded me of it. Not all leaders! I am referring to the Church leaders as a whole throughout time. And that could be said of any denomination and time era.

Being a leader one time myself, I know there are things I could have done better. I let many ways of this world cut into my spiritual life. Elders need to be beyond reproach. Now I know that is impossible if you take that to the letter and law (legalism) but one who is a leader still needs to uphold that aspect/attitude as much as possible.

Thanks again, Chris. I would also like to invite any reader here to go to Chris' site to gain some perspectives.

Gozreht said...

I will add your blog to my list of friends on the home page.

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