Recently, I’ve read quite a few articles bagging on “mega” churches. In the past few months, I’ve sat in round-table discussions focusing on how denominational representation was absolutely necessary to keep believers from stumbling off into the cult-ish wilderness of quasi-doctrinal belief. I’ve heard stances on submission, authority, worship, “religion” (yes, I’ll interject here to say how I despise the misuse of that word. We’re all religious, we only differ in what and how we serve. And yes, that includes the pagans and atheists and naturalists and Christians and every-blooming-person on the earth.), theology, soteriology, historicity, interpretation, and all manner of topics.
And where I’ve landed, after looking at the Jesus revealed in the gospels, hoped for in the Pentateuch, promised through the prophets, ached for in the wisdom literature, proclaimed in the epistles, and again in the Revelation, is that not a single one of us has gotten it right. Granted, there were a literal handful of folks in Jesus’ time who saw who he really was. But even that was through a direct revelation on the Holy Spirit.
So, 2,000 years later, how can any one of us claim to have cornered the market on Jesus?
Yes, we study the scriptures to discover as much as we can about what he did, who he was, and how to emulate him. Yes, we beg the Holy Spirit to mold our decrepit and rotten hearts to be more like his. And yes, we must rely on God’s revealed character as a litmus test against which we measure our findings. And yes, all of this is best done within the protective boundaries of doctrinally-sound communities.
Yet, I hurt when I come across Christian-bashing. By other believers. Those in the mega-churches saying the liturgical are faithless robots. The seeker-oriented gatherings bash mega-church attendees as godless zombies. Those in the liturgical traditions treat their liberal fellows as if infected with anti-Christian-plague. We, brethren, are the body of the one, true Christ. We are all outsiders, seeking entrance, through grace, into the glorious kingdom of the Father.
And not a single, solitary person among us is worthy to be let in.
But for Christ…
Jesus loved the outsiders. Yet, he still found time to minister to the insiders. He touched Roman and Jew alike. He healed without care for class or ethnicity. He rebuked Pharisees and a Syrophoenician with the same authority. He taught men and women just the same.
Jesus gives each one of us His Truth. That He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father but through Him. Jesus allows each of us to decide whether we accept or decline his sacrificial death on our behalf. And if we do, He expects obedience from us. Be we Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. Our allegiance to His Father requires our submission to His will. We are to listen for His voice and be obedient to Him.
And in our obedience, we are to love one another. Whether the other happens to be our polar opposite or not. We, as Christ’s followers, are to be known by our love for one another. Jesus said so.
Thus, I have to ask: can we look at one another, in love, and strive to live peacefully as far as it is up to us. And admit that none of us have it exactly right
But for Jesus.
*I say this entirely tongue-in-cheek. I'll be the absolute first to admit that I, in fact, do not have it all right.