The title of the post is a line from a song by Bread, “This Isn’t What the Governmeant.”
But the post has nothing to do with the state.
It has to do with the church.
For those of us in the Restoration Movement fellowship, we can look back at a time when our track diverged from the Presbyterian Church. From there, we sprouted a three-way switch throwing folks onto Christian Church, Disciples of Christ and Church of Christ sidings.
Sidings? dare I say. Yes, sidings. We are not the main track, and we are not the only ones going to heaven, and in fact, going to heaven is not the whole point anyway. But that’s a different post for a different time. (So please don’t start singing “I’m Goin’ Home on the Morning Train.”)
I don’t know church history well enough to know when we first jumped the track. But we did. Oh, I know, we weren’t alive then; we’ve just been following the track laid down by others.
Well, guess what? The track dead-ends. All but the Main Line.
When we got off track, I don’t know.
But I do know where.
We left the main line when we started being more concerned about church than Christ. You know it. I know it. We started fretting about this doctrine and that doctrine; works vs. grace; choice vs. election; what name is on the door; who’s got the authority; who’s in and who’s out; what must we do to be saved instead of what He has done and is doing.
We invented a new religion, Christianity. It was kinda like Christ. Kinda. On Sundays, anyway. Between the hours of 8:00 and noon, generally. As long as we were in the right building, doing the right things, and living lives that were self-deceiving enough that we didn’t feel motivated to confess our sins to one another while gathered. We would graciously part with a few minutes of our lives to remember Him, at least ceremonially, if not soul-deep in our hearts.
And we decided it was all about church.
Getting church right.
We thought: If we could just get church right, we’d be right. So we’ll figure out how to do it right. We’ll solve all those clues buried deep in the scriptures under ancient languages and customs and history about what God wants us to know and do, and we’ll know them and do them, and earn our way right back into His heart.
At least us Restoration folks concentrated on it to pretty much the exclusion of everything else, everything that matters. For the most part, we still do. We still want to restore the church of century one. Not the heart of Christ, or His Spirit living in us, or God working through us. Not the Way that early followers followed. Or the Truth. Or the Life.
Not the Main Line.
Somehow, soul-deep in my heart, I am persuaded that Satan could not have been happier when we built each switch and laid each set of tracks and followed them faithfully … because our eyes were no longer on the Main Line and where He leads, but on us, on each other, on our guilt and on failure and on imperfection and oh-what-the-bloody-blue-blazes-why-bother.
“Exactly,” Satan says; “got those bloody blue blazes right here for ya.
“Come on down the tracks.
“And build some more switches and sidings to accommodate all the others, willya?”