The Church today – Christlike or Phariseelike?

I have been doing a great deal of thinking recently about the church in America and its reality.  Not what we say it is, not what we want it to be, but what it really is.  If we Unknown-2were to strip away the mask, and the cute phrases, and the nice sounding mission statements and looked at the reality of what is left what would we find.

Now, mind you I am not naive enough to say this is everyone everywhere and yes I am making some generalizations.  I am very well aware that there are MANY great Christians and “churches” that live it well.

However, I am coming to the conclusion that the “church” and “Christianity” in North America looks far more like a movement of Pharisees than it does a movement of “littlepharisee Christ’s” spreading across our cities.  To be a “holy” people is not to be a “holier than thou” people but to be a people who look like Jesus, act like Jesus, love like Jesus, serve like Jesus, go where Jesus went, and be Christ-like to the world around us not just to those within our faith family and for those who are like us.

The Pharisees were all about keeping the rules and staying away from certain groups of people.

Jesus was known as a friend of sinners and came eating and drinking with sinners and tax collectors.

Pharisees made laws to protect the laws.

Jesus was known for “breaking the laws” for the sake of loving the world around him.  Jesus loved and accepted people in spite of their behavior.

Why is it when we talk about “Holiness” do we automatically go to “not sinning” instead of being like Jesus.  If we are going to be like Jesus don’t we automatically have to look at who we are friends with.  Our church culture has used words like “sanctification” and “Holiness” to separate us from the world around us and therefore make us more like Pharisees than like Jesus.  “Sanctification” and “Holiness” should be calls to enter relationships with the very people who need to see the Love of Jesus not the judgement, condemnation and laws of the Pharisees.

I would love your feedback to this question…

When you look at the church (generally speaking – from your perspective and connections) how would your rate the church on the scale of 1-10… 

(1) Looks like Jesus………………………………………………..Look like Pharisee (10)

(Non Judging, Friend of Sinners) …………………. (Separateness, judgment)

(Relational) ……………………………………………………………………… (Legal)

pharisee Unknown-2

No risk requires no faith

I have been pondering the thought… “no risk requires no faith

I’m confronted with my own reality in this at times and wonder if maybe I have redefined “risk” to make myself feel better when in reality I have not really taken much of a risk.

Here are some questions I’m pondering….

Is our faith in direct proportion to our level of risk?

Is faith a trust issue attached to our jumping in with both feet when the outcome is left in the hands of God?

If my decision is based on my “doing the math” and knowing I have the ability before I take action is the act an act of risk which requires faith?

Definitions attached to the word risk include “a chance of loss, injury, hazard, or danger”. The very nature of risk taking is intentionally putting one’s self in the possibility of a harmful or negative outcome.

If risk and faith are attached then what does the text in Hebrews 11:6 mean when it says, “without faith it is impossible to please God”?

How are you living a life of faith that pleases God?

Are there areas in your life where you need to take a risk?

Is it possible to have faith in one area but need to grow in another area?

Just pondering…

Think about it. Would love to know your thoughts.

Border Wars

But what about all the kids in our own country?

These words ring in my ears and break my heart. Do we have needs in America? Yes. Should we care about the poor, the hurting, the trafficked and homeless and hungry in America? Again a resounding yes.

However, often times the scenario looks something like this.

Me… “Here is an opportunity to change a kids life. http://www.teamworldvision.org/kilimanjaro”

American…”but what about all the kids in America. I am tired of us sending all our money overseas to help their kids when we don’t take care of our own.”

Me… So how much have you been giving and doing for “our kids”?

American… “well, ummm, nobody is really doing much here to work with and give to.”

Me… Oh so the answer is nothing. So what are you going to do about that? What ministry are you going to start for our precious children? What have you proactively looked for to make a difference?

It doesn’t surprise me how quickly this conversation is ended or topic is changed or said American angrily leaves.

I wouldn’t have a problem with the issue if people could honestly say they were involved or if equal opportunity was given that they would act upon it. The problem I have is to say “what about ours” like we somehow care and then continue to do nothing.

However, this is a deeper spiritual Issue for me.

God is not an American! I know that is a shock to some.

God’s heart is for the poor and broken, enslaved and marginalized. God’s heart is for hurting people. These folks are in every country. It is sad how geography makes us identify with a broken person differently.

If we took 100 different kids from 100 different countries, none of them personally known by you. How would you decide which one to help? What criteria would you use? Do you help the American? Which one is the American… The white one? Nobody knows. They all have the same need and they all can be helped the same way. And you have the means… How do you choose?

For us to think a hurting American is somehow more special and more deserving of my help is spiritually sickening to me.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I AM NOT SAYING WE SHOULD NOT HELP AMERICAN CHILDREN! But an American child is no more valuable to God than a Thai, African, chinese … child.  And simply because they live in America doesn’t mean you know them and have a personal relationship or connection to that child any more than the child you don’t know anywhere else in the world.

Does geography matter to God when it comes to helping his hurting children? If not why does it matter so much to us.

I think God simply wants his children to HELP His hurting children!

So if you are doing nothing for the children in America… Please stop using them as an excuse to do nothing for children in Tanzania. And if you are “spending yourself on behalf of the poor” (Isaiah 58) in America, then I thank God for you! Keep up the great work!

It is interesting to note that many of the people who are actively involved here are also actively involved overseas… I think it is because they see the world the way God does… Without borders!

How do you see the world?

If you would like to change a child’s life forever you can do that for $35.00 per month. Click on the link below and sponsor a child.  A team of 10 of us are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in a couple months with a desire to change 500 children’s lives. I have a personal goal of sponsoring 100 children.  I am half way there.  Please put my name (Darrell MacLearn) in the “Athlete name” when you sponsor a child and then treat that child like you adopted him/her.  It will change their life as well as your own.

http://www.teamworldvision.org/Kilimanjaro

Subtle shift – huge implications

Have you ever heard or said, “isn’t it good to be in Gos’s house”?

I am on a campaign to change this destructive phrase in the church world to, “isn’t it good to BE God’s house.”

This is a subtle shift with huge implications.  Change one word and we communicate a message that can radically impact our culture and the world around us.

The phrase, “isn’t it good to be IN God’s house” is an unbiblical phrase that has been passed on from generation to generation when Christians gather in church buildings and enjoy each others company and the “presence of the Lord”.   Nothing wrong with church buildings perse, but to call it God’s house subtly communicates unbiblical ideas and sets us up for a one day per week church where we go to meet with God.

What are the implications of changing from “in” to “be”

IN creates…

… Fights over paint and carpet and coffee in the building?..If  God’s house is to be reverenced and kept holy then let’s talk potlucks instead of carpet because BE means me!

IN creates…

… A one day a week connection with God where I go to meet him. Because that is where he is. Thus compartmentalizing my spiritual life.

BE creates a mindset of life and lifestyle incarnate every day in the world around me.

BE causes me to realize that my life is every day and all the time a representative of him.

IN creates an evangelism model that says come and get him or go to hell

BE creates a kingdom mindset that says in the real world around me where i live, work and play, may others see the love of christ in me and experience his love through me.

What would the world and culture around us look like if the church simply said, “isn’t it good to BE God’s house” and then went and lived in that reality?

Jesus is attractive… What if we lived AMONG the world around us and simply let others see Jesus instead of judgemental representatives.

Isn’t it good to BE God’s house?

The church – The embodiment of Christ

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

This is a quote that has shown up on bumper stickers and has been floating around for quite some time. So here is the thought….

Jesus the most holy person to walk the face of the earth was attracted to the most unholy and the most unholy were attracted to him. It was the religious of the day that were put off by Christ. Jesus was accused of being friends with sinners and tax collectors. He ate with them, hung out with them and was very comfortable being around those who had a lifestyle opposite his.

If the “church” is the embodiment of Christ why is it that the world is not attracted to the “church”?

Could it be that for many church is about talking about Christ vs. living like Christ. What would happen if the church became a family living like Christ in their neighborhood?

Neighbors would be attracted to Him. For when they see the church they would see Christ and Christ is attractive.

A collage of pics from our organic churches in Plano and McKinney

For more on this read my earlier post – “A picture of the church

The Most Important Question

There are a great deal of questions regarding church and ministry. Questions about structure, style, leadership, outreach etc.

When Jesus started talking about the church he asked a different question. He asked a question that should be asked again and again today as we discuss the church. It is a foundational question for the church and a critical question for each of us individually.

After Jesus asked those in his inner circle about what others thought about him, he turned to them and asked, “But who do you say that I am?”

I think Jesus is asking us that same question today as we look around and talk about what others think about the Church, Jesus, faith, religion etc.   The reason this is important is because everything about church begins and ends with this single qustion.

In the organic church, even if we get everything else “right” but skip this important question, we are not truly the church.  Church begins with Jesus, who he is and what He has done.

So let me ask you and put each of you on the spot as Jesus did his disciples.

WHO IS JESUS TO YOU?…