A quick quiz. (For those not acquainted with the scripture-focused culture of my religious heritage – Churches of Christ – “BCV” refers to “book, chapter and verse.”)
3.) Name the verse(s) containing the command for believers to give as they are prospered each week so that a church building and staff may be supported. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 2 Corinthians 9:7 Romans 12:8
5.) Name the verse(s) commanding the family of Christ to read scripture every time they congregate to worship.
6.) Name the verse(s) dictating that one (or two or three) speakers must expound upon the Word, interpreting it for the rest, each time the faithful assemble. Acts 20:7 Ephesians 4:11-12 1 Corinthians 14:26-29
7.) Name the verse(s) directing Christians to share in the Lord’s Supper each and every week, preferably on Sunday and in the morning. Acts 20:7
What? You say you read the hidden links after each question and these are not all commands? Perhaps none of them are? Many are implied, some are suggested, a few must be inferred?
But are they not taught week in and week out as the law of Christ in our fellowship?
If they are not the law of Christ, then what is the law of Christ; the law of the Spirit of life?
Why do we spend so much time and ink and pixels and hot air on teaching implications, interpretations, suggestions, examples and inferences – necessary or not! – as law rather than what we can be absolutely certain IS the law of Christ, stated in imperative language and centered on the heart of God in this world? As if a few specific acts of worship are somehow all we “have” to do, and if we do them on one or two days a week, we’re okay?
Pardon me for a moment, but I am a grumpy old man, and I feel this is worth grumping about.
The current issues dividing the emergent conversation and the law-bound, institutional church are largely missing the whole point of incarnational living as Christ in this world; of living a life of worship. These disagreements center almost exclusively on forms of gathered worship; rather than worship by sacrificial living (Romans 12:1-2). They’re mostly about “doing church” rather than “being Christ.” As a general rule, each side is convinced that their way of doing church is the one and only way that will lead them to being saved in the next world without having to become Christ in this one.
Jesus gathered in worship in lots of ways and varieties of numbers and settings with those who followed Him. At the temple. At feasts. On a mountainside. On a plain. In homes. In an upper room. Dining. Fasting. Reading scripture. Paying the temple tax. Singing. Praying. Teaching. Healing. Helping. Forgiving. Encouraging. And many, many other ways. Some of those ways were probably preferred over others by people in His entourage. There is no indication that God rejected or was displeased with any of the ways Jesus or his followers worshiped in the gospels.
They were all sacrificial living; all “serving” (latrueo); all “bowing down toward” (proskuneo); all worship. They glorified God.
The occasions when God became displeased with gathered worship were the ones dealt with in Acts and the epistles when self became more important than His Son – lying to the Spirit about generosity, opinions about feasts and meats, envy over teachers and spiritual gifts, false teachings about circumcision and law and superior “knowledge” required as some sort of salvational supplements to the blood of Christ.
So, I ask again: Why do we spend so much time and ink and pixels and hot air on teaching “how to do church” rather than “how to be Christ”?
And I will tell you the answer as I perceive it:
Because preaching and feeling good about having correctly performed a few required rituals in an hour on Sunday morning is so dadgum much easier than making a 168-hour-a-week lifestyle of self-sacrifice in any and every way that can glorify God – a lifestyle that just might lead you to public ostracism, the end of a career, financial ruin, imprisonment, unjust trial, torture and everything else associated with taking up one’s cross and following Christ.
That’s my answer.
Because it’s exactly why I am failing to be Christ in this world.