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From The Vault: Christian Boundary Markers II

July 15, 2009

“Standing in the kitchen doesn’t make you a chef.”

I want to state right at the beginning that this is a complicated topic much deeper than a mere blog post. There are limitations to writing in this format. Nevertheless…

The primary point in point in the first post related to this topic was that the legitimate religious symbols and practices of one era can become the false idols and legalistic practices of another. This is precisely what can make a discussion of false Christian boundary markers so perilous as these symbols and practices can be, and are, beneficial until idol building humans come into contact with them.

A further problem related to this issue is that humans in general, and Christians in particular, are so very bad at being honest with themselves, and have little to no experience in questioning their own presuppositions and practices. In fact, if I had to put my finger on one of the main issues that has lead to the rapid deterioration of church membership and attendance it is the inability to question what we are saying, what we are doing, and how we are doing it.

The pattern I have seen most often from failing Christian institutions and churches is that if they just keep doing things the way they always have been then God will bless it (with out ever wondering if this is what God wants); therefore, they keep doing whatever it is that was ineffectual in the first place. It brings to my mind the famous saying about insanity. Sometimes there is rhetoric about God getting rid of the chaff… and yet their numbers continue to shrink and shrink. When things finally get so bad that they are shaken out of their denial it is often too late.

Let me say clearly that I think if you are a Christian you should try and find a church. Churches are great places to practice being a Christian. Notice I said practice. See, the mistake most people make is thinking that going to church on Sunday morning is where you go to be a Christian, and often this act is separated from whatever else is going on in their life.

However, church is where you get to practice being forgiving, charitable, asking for forgiveness, and experience God as you give up the illusion of self will and control. Finally, as we go through corporate prayer, worship, and take the elements we practice a spiritual process that eventually characterizes who we are in our dealings with others outside the church when we go into the world and actually be Christians.

The mistake of believing Sunday morning to be the event that marks out a “real” Christian makes church attendance a chore, a legalistic task to ensure that the salvation insurance is still payed. You can go through the week bitter, angry, disappointed, drunk, fighting with your wife, and acting with no ethics at work, but as long as you can dress up the outside and get to church on Sunday morning you are a “good Christian.”

Unfortunately, we often encourage this sort of attitude within our congregations. For a horrible example of this see Marc Driscoll Marc Driscoll HERE.  iMonk has some interesting comments on Driscoll’s characterizations of those that could make it on one of the worst weather days in recent years as the “hardcore of the hardcore” while at the same time Driscoll the pastor of the church denigrates those who did not come because they couldn’t, or for safety concerns.

I do not want to espouse some form of Pelagianism, but neither do I want anyone to think that merely going to church on Sunday morning is what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus said that people will know you are a disciple of his if you do what he commands and if you love one another. He did not say people will know you are my disciple if you act like everyone else (and sometimes worse) but go to church on Sunday morning, sing some bad songs, and hear a good self-help talk so that you can feel better about yourself compared to those that were not there.

The life of the Christ follower is much, much more than going to a building on Sunday morning to congratulate yourself that you intellectually agree with some ideas similar to others in your social and financial bracke

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 15, 2009 4:42 pm

    Interestingly, going to Discoll’s site today, you find ads for outdoor beautiful baptisms in Seattle ! Wow ! Gee, like the perfect wedding. I wonder if they allow rededicate baptisms for those who unfortunately only got baptized in dreary small baptismal. Then they could can add the “I got baptized outside” story to your glorious spiritual journey.

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