I am not a church historian. Some of you just sighed a sigh of relief. Sure I’ve read a few books on church history and we talked about it in seminary but it isn’t really my cup of tea. I’m more of a coffee person while we’re on the topic. Trust me when I say I could keep talking about this issue for a few pages. But I’ll spare you the gory details of my caffeine addiction.
Even though I am not a church history buff, I have been working full time in a church for around eleven years. About ten of those years were in youth ministry and the other year is in the position that I’m currently in, which is a small groups pastor. I have seen the inner workings of church and I have seen certain trends and church models come and go. Some of them good and some of them dangerous. I’ve seen people who are as genuine in their faith as I’ve ever seen and then I’ve seen people that are obviously playing church.
While I’m being honest, I myself started out my faith pretty legalistically. What I mean by that is that when I first started following Jesus, I took every word that He said literally (which I think you should) but at the same time, I held other people to the standard that I was able to achieve while not caring so much about the disciplines or areas of the Christian life where I was falling short.
For example, I hated reading before I became a Christian. Hated it. I would not pick up a book unless it was to put it on some paper that was blowing away on my desk. When I started following Christ, I was told that reading the Bible was a part of the gig. Initially, this didn’t make me happy. But I forced myself to start reading and then I got into the habit of reading my Bible every day. When that happened, I automatically thought that everyone else should do the same. After all, I didn’t like reading to begin with and I am now reading every single day. If I was going to be miserable, dang it, so was everyone else. I started digging into my friends about how their time “in the word” was going. My wife, till this day, will not let me forget that I quizzed her while we were dating about what she was reading and how she was growing “in the Word”. I had to see if she was worthy. I’m kidding now but at the time I was dead serious. I began judging other people’s relationship with God based solely on how much time they were spending reading their Bible. What a turd! I mean, who cares about whether or not I was actually practicing the things I was reading or whether or not I was actually loving my neighbor as Jesus would.
Here’s where I’m headed with this. There are diseases that I’ve seen creep up in the church over time that hinder us from actually being the agent of change that Jesus expected us to be. We have drifted in our identity. We are no longer who we were intended to be. If the truth be told, we have struggled with this since the very beginning of the church. Here’s how I know. Paul addressed plenty of church dysfunctions in his letters to different churches (known as the Epistles). How crazy is that by the way? From the moment churches were created, they struggled with who they were. The truth about the Church was so good, they couldn’t possibly believe that they were free to be what Jesus had called them to be.
For the next few weeks we will take a look at just a few of the dysfunctions that I will cover in detail in my book. Come back next week and check it out.