What Should the Church Look Like? I Have a Dream.
My recent post: “My Wrestle with the Modern Church” has got me thinking? Many of us are disappointed with the church, yet what is our hope our dream our vision? What are we working for? If we did have a dream for a Biblical church for the next century, what would it look like?
I have a dream: This phrase was made famous by Martin Luther King in his ‘I have a dream speech’. In it he lists 8 keys as foundational to his dream.
That all men are created equal
A table of brotherhood and unity
An end to slavery and domination
That all forms of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
An end to racism
That the Glory of the Lord will be revealed; ‘That every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”
That despair will turn to hope
A dream of Freedom
When we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
These keys, visons, hopes that Martin had are actually the foundations of the Gospel. They are the teachings of Jesus who says in Luke 4.
God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”
The Apostle Paul in Galatians 3 says this:
In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The Gospel is a message of inclusion, it is a message of hope and freedom, it reaches out to the lame and the despised. It is a message of love to neighbour and of love of enemy.(Mark 12:31)
Jesus says in Matthew 5:
“It says in the law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that law.
I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does.
God gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”’
Lets look at the first Church, the Church in Acts. What did they do?
They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, of life together, the common meal, and the prayers. And all the believers lived in harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. They worshipped every day and celebrated every day at meal times and they praised God. They were told to build each other up, to encourage. They were told to comfort and to bear each others burdens. They could do this because they all lived in the same neighbourhoods, the same streets.
Devoting themsleves to ‘fellowship’ as some translations say is not instructing us to remain isolated from the world, or that we only associate with other Christians. It is saying this: They devoted themselves to fellowship (κοινωνία). Since this word has the connotation of sharing common, this is likely an allusion to the communal life described in the next verses (Fitzmyer, Acts, 269). It would read: They devoted themselves to communal life, at the very least this includes alms and care for the poor.
They lived in community. The word community is broken up into two words. Com – which means ‘with’ and unity – which means ‘being unified’. In 1-2 Thessalonians Paul seems to instruct the members of the church to not retire from daily life and be constantly devoted to ministry. 2 Thess 3:11-12 specifically tells people to go out and get jobs so that they are not a burden.
Jesus also told his followers to ‘Go out’ and share the good news. He encourages us to do life with those around us and to share the good news of freedom, hope, inclusion and peace. We are not supposed to live in a holy huddle. That’s actually not holy its toxic. We are supposed to share, to give hope, to live alongside our community our neighbours our workmates and school friends. We are supposed to carry peace, love, joy, hope, goodness, gentleness, faith into every situation. All of those attributes which are evidence of the fruits of the spirit.
Maybe the Church should look like Jesus!
- Is NOT racist or bigoted (in other words does not think that He is superior or better than)
- Loves Justice
- Brings freedom from oppression
- Gives sight to the blind
- Frees all prisoners
- Breathes forgiveness
- Believes in equality
- Heals all of our wounds
- Demonstrates unity
- Characterises all the fruits of the spirit
- Brings hope and good news to all that He meets
- Lays down His life for all
- Is generous and gracious to all
- Loves the outcast and the marginilised and seeks them out
- Includes everyone, all are welcome
- Carries our burdens
- Brings LOVE into every situation
- Is intolerant of the religious and the Pharisees (the self righteous and hypocritical)
- Brings the Kingdom of Heaven everywhere that He goes
- Ministers reconciliation and restoration
- Where He goes people flourish
- Brings peace and comfort to every situation.
IF the Church looked like this to every single person then imagine the changes that would happen in society. As you know ‘we’ are the Church, which means that there is a lot of change that still needs to happen in all of us. Me included.
You tell me, what do you think the Church should look like?
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