Christianity 101

Spring 2016

I can still remember when I first started going to church.  As soon as the minister got behind the pulpit and started reading the Bible, I was lost!  I didn’t know the difference between the New Testament and the Old, if Moses and Jesus were brothers, or what to do with the bread and juice.  I needed a class like Christianity 101.

What is the Restoration Movement?

“Remember where you came from!” is something my parents told me when I was growing up.  Regardless of where I went in life, they wanted me to remember my heritage, our work ethic, and the values most important to our family.  That’s good advice, and it carries over to matters of faith.  With an influx of guests visiting DCC, now’s a good time to briefly answer a few questions about what kind of church this is.

What kind of Church is DCC?

DCC is part of the Restoration Movement, which is a non-denominational effort to restore Jesus’ Church to its original New Testament form.  We do not believe we are the only Christians, but we do elect to call ourselves ‘Christians’ only (Acts 11.26).  We do so out of a firm commitment to teach, do, and insist upon nothing except which is found in the Bible.  We have no creed but Christ and no book but the Bible.

U-N-I-T-Y

I don’t like it when Christians treat each other as the enemy.  Most will say they don’t do that.  But—if we’re honest—we often expend more emotional energy thinking about a disagreement with a fellow believer than we do thinking about how to reach one more person for Jesus.  I really don’t like that.[1]  Actually, it makes me sad.  Here’s why:

We’re on the same team.  Followers of Jesus want the same thing: more Jesus.  We want more Jesus for ourselves.  More Jesus for our marriage.  More Jesus for our church.  More Jesus for our neighbors and our neighbors’ neighbors, for the mailman, the President, the President’s mailman, etc.  We all want more Jesus.  You know what?  There’s plenty of Jesus to go around.  I know.  He told me[2].

My prescription: decaf and the seventeenth chapter of John’s gospel.

Decaf

Calm down!  It’s ok.  Jesus isn’t going anywhere.  There’s been a war on Jesus since Herod tried to kill him and all the other Jewish baby boys 2000 years ago.  Herod lost then, and he continues to lose today.  But, we suffer personal defeats when we get excited and start arguing about the wrong things.  The right things are laid out for us in the Bible.[3]  What do you do when you think your take on the Bible is more right than another Christian’s take on the Bible?  Drink decaf and then apply John 17.

The Insurgency – Where are All the Men?

Dear Men: Over a decade ago, I gave up about 6 months of my life to earn some titles and macho bragging rights that I assumed (hoped, actually) would define me for the rest of my life.  Guys tend to do that: look for strength and meaning in titles, trophies, and tabs.  To say that this pursuit dominated my existence would generate the understatement of, well, the decade.  Still now, they’re cool I guess.  But, the coolness drastically diminishes as I move from one phase of life to the next.

Caught up in the here-and-now, I never considered how quickly those things would become the then-and-there.  So, now what?  Is that all there is to life: one endless string of here-and-nows that will eventually gather dust and leave us hoping everyone remembers our then-and-theres.

Maybe.

Prophet, Priest, and King

One of my favorite ways to describe Jesus is through his three historical roles of Prophet, Priest, and King.  In this post, I want to take a quick look at all three and then apply them to our leadership roles in Jesus’ church today.

As a prophet, Jesus taught and embodied truth.  He perfectly filled both roles of a biblical prophet: foreteller (stating future events; Jn 2.19) and forth-telling (declaring present truth authoritatively; Jn 14.6; cf. Dt 18.15).  As priest, Jesus lovingly intercedes on our behalf to meet every one of our spiritual needs (Heb 9.11-12).  As king, Jesus demonstrated power over creation through miracles (Acts 2.22) and the building of His church; He will return to rule all of creation (Mt 21.5; Rev 19.11-16).

Play

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2010)

“Jesus commands us to go.  He has created each of us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth…anything less than radical devotion to this purpose is unbiblical Christianity.” (p. 64)

In Radical, the author (Dr. David Platt, a senior minister from Birmingham) shows us the “blind spots” in American Christianity that keep so many of us from following the real Jesus of the Bible.  The entire book is blunt and challenging, so I don’t recommend reading it if you’re not serious about growing in your Faith.  He writes with a no nonsense approach to Scripture, making it a hard book to ignore.

The first half of the book exposes the subtle yet terrifyingly effective traps Satan weaves into the American Dream to keep Westerners from fully believing and doing all that Jesus died for.  Clearly stating the difference between the two, he writes: “While the goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God.” (p. 47)

Platt also shines the spotlight on the way we pick and choose among Jesus’ commands.  For instance, we treat ministry and mission work as something to which He only “calls” a select few, but then we’re quick to claim and obey the command to “Come to me, all you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  We pretend the Great Commission is only for varsity believers, while promises of abundant life were intended for everybody.

To maintain urgency, the second half of the book gives alarming statistics about the thousands of people who die every day, launching off into a Christless eternity while many of us are content to do nothing.  “We leave worship to spend thousands of dollars on lunch…meanwhile the poor man is outside our gate. And he is hungry.” (p. 114)

The challenge then becomes clear: are we willing to forsake everything for the advancement of the gospel (Mark 10.28), or would we rather build our own Kingdom here on earth (Matt 6.19)?  This book seeks to keep us all away from the lukewarm faith Jesus attacked in Laodicea (Rev 3.14-19).  The author does so by simply reminding us of the Great Commission:

“A community of Christians each multiplying the gospel by going, baptizing, and teaching in the contexts where they live every day.  Is anything else, according to the Bible, even considered a church?” (p. 106)

At Your Side,

-bill

You’re Irreplaceable

I’d like to take a few minutes to remind each of you how extremely important you are to this church.  As you contemplate your membership in Christ’s church (which I would like you to do with me for a moment), please do so from God’s point of view.  When God adds members to his church, he does so one person at a time.  Each piece of the body is an individual, different, very particular piece.

In other words, there is simply no replacing you in this church.  If you’re gone or simply not an active, functioning part of our community, the rest of us miss out.  We don’t get the unique “you” God created and gave to his church.  As Christians, we belong together.  Read what the apostle Paul tells us about the bond we share:

19 …. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. (Eph 2.19b, NLT)

In his book The Weight of Glory, CS Lewis writes on exactly what Paul meant by membership for the Christian.  His words are worth reading here:

The very word membership is of Christian origin, but it has been taken over by the world and emptied of all meaning…almost the reverse of what St. Paul meant by members. By members he meant what we should call organs, things essentially different from, and complementary to, one another… A row of identically dressed soldiers set side by side, or a number of citizens listed as voters in a constituency are not members of anything in the Pauline sense. I am afraid that when we describe a man as “a member of the church” we usually mean nothing Pauline; we mean only that he is a unit — that he is one more specimen of some kind of things as X and Y and Z. How true membership in a body differs from inclusion in a collective may be seen in the structure of a family. The grandfather, the parents, the grown-up son, the child, the dog, and the cat are true members (in the organic sense), precisely because they are not members or units of a homogeneous class. They are not interchangeable. Each person is almost a species in himself… . If you subtract any one member, you have not simply reduced the family in number; you have inflicted an injury on its structure.

My prayer for you is that you take up residence here.  Plant your roots deeply in the ground at DCC and love this place like your home—because it is!  Whether you’ve been here 10 years or 10 days, look anew at this local brotherhood as your dear family.  Get to know someone better.  Repair a lost friendship.  Serve the body in the unique way only you are able.  Because in Paul’s words:

25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. (1 Cor 12.25-27, NLT)

Your Brother in Christ,

-bill