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“Church-anity”

posted Jan 23, 2013, 1:30 PM by hbchurch org
1/20/13

   The power of perception is amazing. Many people are convicted of their beliefs primarily upon the basis of cultural perceptions. I was reminded of this phenomena by my mother-in-law just last week.

   She grew up in an era of religious debates and preaching that was “church” focused. She remembers her mother stressing the importance of being a member of the church of Christ. The emphasis was on church.

   This mindset grew. In the Bible belt where I grew up, it was a rare day when we didn’t hear phrases like: “join a church” or “go to church”. People gave money “to the church” to fund “the work of the church”.  “Church workers” were esteemed in the eyes of the community. There were “church” picnics, “church” camps and  “church” softball teams.

   So, in the mind of John Q. Public, who were the people involved in all the “church” activities? The cultural perception of the day: “Christians”. Except for a handful of Jews and Catholics, all others were thought of as some “brand” of Christian. Since there is nothing in the Bible about different varieties of Christians, conflict inevitably followed.

   Unfortunately, the arguments were all too often focused upon the collective rather than an individual relationship to the Lord. There was a very popular tract published for many years entitled, One True Church. The approach used by the writer was based upon comparing the origin of various denominations to the Lord’s church. Granted, there is some value in making such a comparison, but it still leaves the wrong impression. The perception is this: if you can identify the true church and join it, then you will be right with God. Churchanity!

   This was not the appeal of any N.T. preaching or teaching. The apostles preached Christ and stressed the need for every person to obey Him. Those who followed the Lord’s teaching (and that of His apostles) were called Christians (Acts 11:26). Our task is to convert people to Christ not to the church. He is the Savior not the church. The church is, by definition, the saved (Eph. 5:23), but many people have it reversed. Their perception: join a church, become a Christian, and ‘get saved’. Churchanity!

   Yes there is a proper place in our teaching for instruction regarding the Lord’s church. But given the mountain of misconceptions about the church in the mind of most people (including many of our own), we need to be very careful about how we think and talk about the church. The task of turning hearts to the Lord is challenging enough without adding to the confusion with expressions that reinforce the erroneous cultural perceptions already so prevalent.   KD

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