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In the church we spend great amounts of money, many other resources and lots of personal energy trying to gather as many as possible to come to us and then to secure their ongoing attendance.  We have ‘membership classes’, ‘orientation groups’, ‘enrollment’ and ‘data capture’ forms that we get people to fill in and return. We initiate ministry, function, or activity groups of all types and try get as many as possible involved in doing things in and for the local church.  Yet the way I read the bible it seems clear to me that Jesus never did any of these things.  He tended to keep moving and mostly seemed even to discourage people from following him physically rather than enticing them to join his entourage.  Instead of going to where it was obvious that more people would be he did the opposite.  When expected to zig, he seemed to zag.

I wonder why?

Yes, he did say that we should follow his example,  but there is only record of him approaching some of the 12 apostles and telling them to physically, “follow me.”   When he did this there is interestingly no record of an induction course or qualification mentioned or any formal training strategy other than simply following him and going along with him day by day – doing, seeing, and participating personally, experiencing, learning, failing, doing it again, and again, experiencing more, growing, learning…  It also seems that after telling them to follow him he simply turned around and walked.  To me it looks pretty much like as if he made the offer and it was up to them to respond how they saw fit.  I sort of get the picture in my head that if he turned around some time later and they were there they were … and if they were not there, they weren’t.

I wonder why?

If anything in all of this, I would say that Jesus went to the people.   He left his home and went out to be with them, amongst them.  He never expected them to come to him.   Again, he kept moving.   He just walked.

I wonder why?

However, there is also record of how Jesus openly challenged those who followed him in a most direct and controversial way.  He challenged their real reasons why they followed him and in so doing multitudes were severely offended, turned back and apparently never followed him again.   It seemed like he made it increasingly difficult, even impossible for them to follow him and they left in their droves.  These days we intentionally avoid all forms of controversy and in fact will do almost anything to attract positive and friendly attention and get as many people as possible to follow us regardless of their reasons.

I wonder why?

There is no textual evidence documented of Jesus ever asking for money from anyone.   He himself came from very poor stock and yet by all accounts it is apparent that he tended to give finances out at times for the poor and needy.  Oh yes, and there is also the one other small little passage that seems to indicate that there were a few women who supported him out of their own means (their ‘substance’) – but no more than this vague statement is revealed and even this statement is not at all clear in terms of what it meant then or might mean for us today.   Such a big issue these days for us… apparently not so at all for Jesus.

I wonder why?

Jesus told us to baptise converts and to eat of the communion table in remembrance of him and his sacrifice, death and resurrection.  He instructed us to do this as often as possible, in fact as often as we meet together.  Yet strangely, even though this was almost a command from Jesus these are practiced only sometimes, at most only monthly and this usually only in the most fastidious of churches. Even baptisms are mostly done seasonally or according to permitting weather patterns.  More strangely however, the most regular ‘sacrament’ practiced in churches today is the collection of tithes and offerings.   This is done every corporate gathering without fail regardless of how fastidious a group is.  In fact we even often have a small teaching presented to the people as to why and how much to give.  We have become very skilled in this sacrament and clearly most committed to it.  Yet Jesus never did this at all, in fact as I have suggested, he seemed to do the opposite.

I wonder why?

Jesus also told us to follow his example – even to death – that we were to do exactly as he did – from sacrificing ourselves, to washing each others feet, unconditionally loving and forgiving and not condemning or even holding things against others,  to serving even our enemies … and this all at our own personal expense.  He even instructed us not only to forgive our enemies, but to actively and consciously bless them.  Yet not much at all of any of these things are really seen practiced in the present church.

I wonder why?

There is no evidence that Jesus had any social, emotional nor monetary problems.  There is overwhelming evidence that we do.

Today we tend to have all manner of flaky, semi-converts and we love them – in fact, the more the merrier.  Indeed, we work extra hard to keep them happy and feeling safe, secure, and protected.

In sharp contrast the disciples Jesus walked with made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives willingly in service of him.

Again, I wonder why?

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10 Comments

  1. bold strokes of the wip.

    • no whip intended, …. just bold questions in search of bold answers

  2. The sacrement of communionis practiced at every service the Catholic church has

  3. Firstly, thank you Lloyd for yet another thought provoking blog. I wonder why we have to have gigantic churches with bands that go on relentlessly punishing us with the dreaded “Four chord wonder songs” which supposedly have come from the very heart of God and 10 minutes of announcements that more often than not lead to boredom and sleep, of course, there is the obligatory prayer for the offering in which one young pastor uttered the words “this morning” 62 times in +-10 minutes, go figure, once every 10 seconds and then there were the various praise utterances in between, mmm, I wonder why and if he actually prayed anything of consequence. Well, in the early days of the church I believe believers met in peoples homes and anywhere they could that wouldn’t get them butchered by the Romans and in the poo with the Pharisees, so what is wrong with meeting in our homes as small…ish (if you like) groups ? We won’t need a band, expensive equipment and big screens and multi-million £$R buildings to house masses of unwitting innocents who are the relieved of the hard earned bucks to pay for this lot. So, I guess I also wonder why….

  4. A very good post, Lloyd. Which I make a point of linking to over at my humble corner of the blogoverse. And BTW – I really appreciate that you are now capitalizing and punctuating correctly as I find it much easier to read. Good to know that you respond to the dyslexically challenged. 🙂

  5. This concerns me as well, I guess that by building up numbers in our churches we feel better about ourselves, but I also then we can keep doing what we like doing in our christian club.
    I’ve spent a lot of time trying to suggest maybe we could do things differently to reach out to people (as opposed to ‘bring people into church’) and then disciple them, but I’m realising that a lot of people in our churches depend in the current structures for power and money, so they can’t allow things to change.

  6. Hey, Lloyd – i’ve been thinking about ‘sacraments’. A second century word. I wonder if Jesus really intended the ‘sacraments’, between 2 and 7, depending on where you find yourself on the Christian spectrum. I wonder if it wasn’t just about eating together. And when we eat, being reminded that our relationship is possible, because he is as real as the food we consume. Nothing formal. Nothing holy. I also wonder about the whole baptism debate – I know there is the one ‘verse’ where he is quoted to say ‘make disciples & baptise them’ – a verse which has become the heart of evangelical theology or dogma, I think. I wonder if her eally intended it as a pattern to be followed, a habit? Water plays a big symbolistic role trhoughout the Bible. You know, Israel through the sea. The water from the rock. Before that the whole thing with Noah. Jonah. The walking on it. The river drying up for Elijah. Before the river the copious amounts of water he poured on the altar with the thing with the Baal Prophets. The changing of it into wine. That’s just the references I can remember off the top of my head. What do you thin the water is about? A symbol of what. And only a symbol, or do you think it is in our magicians book to cast a spell on evil, you know, like, gaudiamus igitur nos ucundem uventutem, dip, sprinkle or pour en wham (without the flash) evil is contained and heaven is a bit closer?

    • yes, I personally think we have made the ‘sacraments’ into things they aren’t in reality. and because we have applied grotesque legalism to it all we have trapped ourselves in it and hence evolved and almost perfected the deviant semantic gymnastics we have so conveniently and whole-heartedly embraced to sustain our hypocrisy.
      in direct reference to your query – for me the word used for baptism in the text is not that of external ablutions or superficial ceremonial washings but that of total immersion, saturation. like when a cucumber gets saturated with the vinegar and spices and emerges as a totally transformed ‘pickle’ – unable to return to its natural state, irretrievably transformed by being submerged in transformational substance (in this case the vinegar which would signify the washing of/in the water of the word). Jesus immersed his disciples in the very nature of the living God – hence his words to them “you are already clean because of the words I have given you. … and need only wash each others feet” – I don’t believe it refers only to the actual feet of people (although it remains a deeply humbling and powerful symbolic act and should be practiced often as a regular ‘sacrament’ of humility) … but to our walk, our daily sojourn, etc. … and the forgiveness and cleansing we are to extend to ourselves as well as to all around us in exactly the same way that Christ extended the forgiveness and cleansing (and so much more) to us.
      for the sake of the argument and to make a point – in my blog posting I was highlighting the general fundamentalist angle of its interpretation and application, thereby hopefully drawing attention to our hypocritical deviation from the ‘commands’ of Christ when it is considered more convenient for us.
      it is also my view that a lot more of what Jesus taught and demonstrated and practically enacted was profoundly and deeply symbolic and powerfully metaphorical and this definitely includes your suggestions w.r.t. ‘communion’ amongst many other things

  7. I will keep following religiously, until the Jamesons runs dry….

  8. Shew …… This is such interesting and eye-opening material. I am enjoying it very much!


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