So the ideas of Plato had convinced the Church that anything associated with our physical bodies was bad. It devalues our lives on Earth and fixes the idea in our minds that we should not place any worth in our earthly existence and yearn for heaven. You’ve heard the expression of being so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good and you can blame Plato’s influence on this! It encourages us to see our faith just as a “ticket to heaven” rather than the service we are meant to give in this World, particularly in the context of the Great Commission. Of course, heaven is our great hope and reward, but that should not be at the expense of a fulfilled life, of service, sacrifice and testimony.
Here lies the real problem. Declaring a division between heaven and Earth, between sacred work and secular work, between the holy and the profane, between clergy and laity, between the supernatural and the natural, is a thoroughly Greek idea, coming from this dualism of Plato. It leads to a separation between “spiritual” occupations and the rest and have given us an unconscious respect for those of us with a higher calling. It fuels such attitudes as believing that missionaries, church workers, clergy and those “called out for Christian service” are the only real full-time Christians there are. The rest of us, working in offices, schools, building sites and the like, are “part time” Christians, defined by what we do for God away from the workplace.
This idea is so prevalent today and is so wrong! If you are a born-again Christian then the Bible tells you that you are:
So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. (Acts 12:5) The Church is not a building, it is you and me, the people of God.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (Revelation 1:6)
We are all priests, because we all have access to God through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet many of us act as if this is not true, we still shove our pastors, teachers, preachers, worship leaders and even Christian celebrities onto pedestals and conference platforms and look to them to minister to us and show us Jesus. This is a thoroughly Greek idea and wrong! We don’t need these people to “offer sacrifices” on our behalf, we are all priests and we can all approach Jesus directly.
To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7)
We don’t need to venerate dead bones or those who have cast off their mortal coil in glorious triumph. Dead saints can’t hear your prayers, only God can. We are all saints, even though we may not always act very saintly. We are no less special than anyone else who has gone before us.
We are the Church, we are all priests and saints. We all have a higher calling. There is no sacred and secular, because we are all sacred, we all have a sacred calling.
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:17)
Next week we are going to see how ‘doing Church’ has been affected by Plato.
(This is an abridged extract from Steve’s book How the Church Lost the Way: And How it Can Find it Again )
Who is the Church?
Written by: Miriam Emenike
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