Saturday, August 01, 2009

A Time to Shift

I have spent a lot of time and prayer through the years attempting to understand God's will. There is one huge theme that has come from that study, time and time again. An honest and open and objective look at the Bible keeps telling me that I need to change my fundamental thinking about many things I've been taught. In the buzz words of today we call it "a paradigm shift." The need to change the framework, or preconceived notions about what we are looking at. I've been challenging myself, and those I minister to, to do that nearly my whole career. In the eighties I began challenging everyone to think of worship as a life given to God, not one hour on Sunday morning. Back then, that got me labeled a radical. Here are a few others:
Church is not an institution but a tool for relationship building.
Elders are not business leaders, but spiritual shepherds, who mentor and guide members and not just meet to make decisions.
Bible Classes should foster love not education. ("Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies")
Our church family must be defined by our love for one another not our assembly style.
The spirit of Christ is found in seeking a relationship with Him, not the pursuit of biblical patterns. When has God's will even been like putting together a jigsaw puzzle?
Grace is a matter of direction not perfection, so "seeking God" is the most important element in faith - and pleasing God.
The assembly of God's children is first, last, and always, an opportunity to give, not an experience to receive.
The list is much longer, but I share these simply to introduce what I believe is one of the most important paradigm shifts any Christian can make. It can and should completely change the way we look at, teach, and use everything God has given us to help us grow spiritually. I call these tools. Many people use the word a lot, but do we truly think about what it means? From prayer to communion, and from spiritual leaders to the Holy Spirit, God gave us a tool box full of tools so we can be totally equipped for everything He wants us to do and become. God was helping, or equipping us, not giving us a list of rituals to test our obedience.
Here's the paradigm shift - what is the difference between a rite and a tool? Look at anything and everything that God gave us to help us grow and help others grow, and ask yourself, "Is it a rite to perform, or is it a tool to use?" It will shake-up the way you look at everything you do whether individually, like study and prayer, or together with brethren, as in singing and communing. Just think about it.
Tomorrow morning I'm going to be preaching about communion being a tool to use rather than a rite to perform. We strangled it to death with our patterns, legalism, and Catholic sacraments. Could it simply be a common, readily accessible way that Jesus wanted us to regularly (during shared meals anywhere and anytime) think about Him and what it means to be His body?


Deborah said...

I say, absolutely yes!

Good thoughts. Wish I could hear the sermon for real...

Scott and Ashley said...

I'm with you 100%. Try telling some of the folk around here that... "this is the way we've always done it"... lol. It kills me and makes me smile at the same time.