Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Can Churches Repent?

It has always seemed strange to me how organizations that call others to repent are never able to do so themselves. What is it about these institutions that prevents them from subjecting themselves to their own message? Is it just a natural part of institutionalism? Once established, are they forever crystalized in their dogma and practice? Is self-reflection gone?

Could it be that they have deceived themselves into thinking that their credibility rests upon the illusion of immutability? Do churches attempt to project an image of infallibility in order to engender a sense of confidence in their constituents?

How close is this to being blasphemous?

By refusing to entertain even the notion of change inherent in the meaning of repentance, our churches may be blurring the lines between themselves and their God. Only God Himself is immutable with respect to goodness. He need never repent - but I am stating the obvious.

The Sermon on the Mount is quite clear on the subject of illegitimate religion and the danger of equating one's position too closely with God's. So much of what is preached and taught by the churches is designed to impress men and to receive back their praise - something usually reserved for the Creator. This alone should wake the churches up to their need for repentance. Perhaps all the noise they have made in asking "What would Jesus do?" has left them no time to read about those things Jesus DID.

A cursory reading of the first few chapters of John's Revelation tells us that corporate repentance is in fact a norm for the New Testament faith. Perhaps today's egotistically driven society has so permeated the churches that corporate repentance makes no sense. Isn't is all about ME??? You know, personal saviour, and all that.

Repentance - the turning around of the hearts, minds, souls and bodies, in acknowledgement of our corporate failure to be obedient to the message of our Lord. Simple, yet humiliating.

He honors this act by the giving of His Spirit for strength on the journey back. Why do we refuse? Arrogance of this magnitude has never bode well for God's people.

"The name of God is blasphemed all day long because of [us]."

JB

1 Comments:

Blogger Rick said...

Great commentary. Churches should model what they preach.

Another area that I struggle with is giving or tithes.

The church is so quick to inform and remind its membership about giving ... quoting this and that scripture to get what it wants. The church never seems to put itself under the same microscope and ask itself "where is the Biblical model for church spending?". Churches spend millions (and collectively billions) on buildings and salarys .... hoping to either impress people to salvation or to reassure itself of God's blessing.

What was the purpose of Christ's own words about where ever 2 or 3 are gathered? We seem to have bought into a way of thinking that says more is better .....

I believe there is a magical line that growing churches cross; the line where God and his deliverance and blessing are forgotten, the line where churches begin to rely on their own strength, taking credit for the good work already begun, and finally doing what they can to mechanically sustain or manufacture it.

I do not believe that any church starts out with these intentions, but rather the human spirit (or collective church spirit), if not guarded, can give in slowly to the rush of ego -- becoming drunk in its own success ... doing whatever it takes remain in that drunken stupor. It is time the church sobered up and committed itself to God's 10 step program.

8:12 AM  

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