Is the Church what we think it is?
Three views on the Christian life … from within!
We need to be holistic and realise that living, thinking and acting Hebraically should flow naturally together; we ought to live in godly relationships, with our thinking resulting in godly actions. It’s a complete package, which of course the Christian deal was always meant to be.
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17)
So, here are some thoughts, ideas and suggestions to throw into the mix. The first thing that comes to mind is the real harm done by Greek thinking.
Consider Mr Smartypants. He is theologically astute, knows his interpretations of his Bible inside out and is willing to lock horns intellectually with anyone who dares to see the Bible any differently. He is not for turning, as he has invested much time and effort in reaching his positions and is not going to allow any argument, however eloquently stated, to sway him. This rigidity has its origins in Greek thinking and indeed was a prominent feature of the Christian world during the time of the Church Fathers. It’s a tendency to see Christianity as a philosophy rather than a living faith and fights its battles in the mental realm, with lots of hot air but very little fruit and sadly very little concern for the effects of these views. An example is the Replacement Theology that is the UK church’s prominent argument for the relationship between the Church and Israel. The effects of these views have historically given rise to a very negative view of Jewish people, resulting in some of the most shameless actions ever conducted by the Church in the name of God. Another example is those Christians who are so bursting with anticipation and excitement over the rapture or second coming of Christ, yet seem oblivious to the issue of the billions of human beings who will be left in the tribulation or shipped off to Hell.
Then there’s Miss Fluffypants. She’s been sold on the idea that God is so loveable that He is willing to allow everyone into Heaven, as long as they are sincerely following their particular path, even if Jesus is absent from this path. How could a loving God consign anyone to Hell, she argues, though her view of this place is a far cry from the way Jesus described it in the Gospels. Her view of God is coloured by sentimentality, encouraged by liberal thinking that was born out of Greek rationalism. She has recreated God in her own imagination as an acceptable, reasonable, fluffy God. This is not the God of the Bible, the sovereign, Almighty God of justice who reminds us that only Jesus provides the ticket to everlasting life and the alternative ain’t pretty!
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
Finally there’s Mr Gracepants, who has inherited an incorrect understanding that relegates everything that smacks of Law to the cobweb-strewn unopened drawer of the Old Testament and insists that, as a people of grace, we’re pretty much free to do what we want, as the Spirit moves us. We have already seen that there’s plenty of grace in the Old Testament and that, despite what many Christians think, we are still under the law, Jesus’ law. This wrong thinking is born out of the dualism of Plato, which tends to divide and conquer us, setting up imagined conflicts between soul versus body, sacred versus secular, clergy versus laity and law versus grace.
So we need a correct view of God, His word and how to express this faith that burns within. We need to be living, thinking and acting Hebraically, all three. Think how this can affect us in how we live our lives.
Let’s think about evangelism, God’s command to us to go and make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19). Mr Smartypants would try to argue someone into the Kingdom, Miss Fluffypants would promise warm fuzziness and the assurance of a life without pain and hardship and Mr Gracepants would offer us a fast-track to heaven with no restrictions in this life.
For the previous article in this series, click here.
For the next article in this series, click here.
To find out what is my favourite book of the Bible, click here.
You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.