Monday, June 11, 2007

Selfish Churches

In the age of reality shows (Apprentice, the Bachelor, Pirates, etc., etc.) one theme begins to appear consistently: people are pretty selfish. When the whole object of the game is to make alliances, then break them so you set your “friends” up to be skewered, that’s selfish.

It does cause me stop and think about myself though. Living the life of kingdom giving is a challenging assignment. Jesus asks us to give up wealth (Mark 10:20), to give up family (Mark 10:29), to give up our sense of self-autonomy and the right to decide what we are going to do with our lives (Mark 10:35-45). That’s heady stuff on the personal level.

Kingdom living is probably even more difficult at the community level—interpret that as church. There’s something about making decisions with a bunch of other people that absolves us of responsibility. It’s not up to me, right? Everyone is involved with this. What can I do if there are some people who can’t give it up? And so the selflessness challenges slowly float by while we (the church), calmly sit on the bank untouched—and unchanged.

Here’s a short list of community challenges to selfless, kingdom living.:

Doctrinal purity – we’ve got the right to be right, read that the right to determine what is right and what is not based on our own preferences.

Autonomy – this bundle of joy allows us the right not to join anyone else in doing something together lest we violate our right to do everything on our own.

Community existence – this is a tough one, it means we retain the right to keep on going long after our ability to be a kingdom light in the world has been extinguished (look at what Jesus said to the church in Ephesus if this sounds harsh, Rev. 2:1-7).

Myopia – this is the ability to see only what we want to see, to narrow our field of vision down to a single slice of reality while ignoring everything else.

When we read Mark 10 about Jesus's comments on wealth, family, life and autonomy we cannot read them only at the level of the individual. Those kingdom maxims are intended for the level of kingdom communities as well.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for a few thoughts about how we can more intentionally develop and plant churches with a selfless attitude. May God continue to help us in living his kingdom reign in our lives.

Reg Cox said...

Stan, as I contemplate some of the recognizable character traits of mature faith selfless service is a primary expression of where God desires modern disciples to grow into. I believe the invitation and call to church plant will sake out the real enemy that has been afoot amongst us for decades; masquerading as the pursuit of righteousness, right doctrine and right orthodoxy what’s killing churches of Christ is self centeredness. Let us call sin for what it really is and quit claiming to be something we’re not so forward momentum in God’s kingdom and in our fellowship can be released.

Jason & Nicole said...

Amen! What a challenge to those who would be the light of the world!


Rizzle said...

It's exciting to see you blogging Stan. I look forward to reading and keeping up to date with your challenging posts.

Jason Campbell said...

Trying to think through kingdom living with a group of others, coming together in unity around a decision to be selfless as a marker of community identity: I can't imagine anything more difficult in our culture.

We are not set up to do things as a community, and we have very little helpful experience among us (church committees, anyone? Is there anything more ghastly, slow-moving, and filled with venomous politics?)

May we be transformed into selfless churches; may the Spirit of Christ within us awaken us to new (old) patterns and practices that show the way to community identity which honors Christ; and may God raise up among us leaders who have the courage to re-discover those overgrown ways.