The institutionalization of the Lord’s church, and of various ministries and Christian organizations, continues. Once an organization or group reaches a certain mass, it will tend toward institutionalization. I don’t think this happens at the same mass for every example, and it will likely vary, depending on a lot of different factors. However, once it begins to be institutionalized, it’s mission will be changed from what it was originally, to self-perpetuation. At this moment, if not before, it will also begin to calcify and lose it’s flexibility. It will respond in a natural way to threats, to silence or marginalize them, and also remove dissenting voices from it’s midst. This is often done with the proclamation that the group is more important than the individual, which has an element of truth, but is the wrong comparison. In Christ, we should be following Christ, not the group, or the individual. Systematically, Christ Jesus and His leadership fade into the background, and the original mission becomes the focus of marketing efforts, though it has likely been supplanted by a motive that the “organization” must continue. This is one of the reasons why the institutions of man are temporary, but what God does lasts forever.
In my dream I see the lone figure of a man following a road. As the sun sets
beneath the hills, a city comes into view. Nearing it, the traveler sees what
appears to be a large group of churches. Spires and crosses pierce the
skyline. His pace quickens. Is this his destination? He passes an imposing
structure, a neon sign flashing “Cathedral of the Future.” Farther on a
floodlit stadium supports a billboard boasting that fifty thousand people
crowd into evangelistic meetings there three nights a week. Beyond this,
modest “New Testament” chapels and Hebrew Christian synagogues
cluster together on the street front.
“Is this the City of God?” I hear the traveler ask a woman at the information
booth in the central square.
When Jesus said in Matthew 18:22 that Peter should forgive his brother “seventy times seven” times, he was speaking from personal experience, not just handing down a golden truth. It is difficult for us to dislodge the notion that the Christ-child arrived to the planet forearmed with wisdom and perfect knowledge of the Way, to reconcile the idea that Jesus the Christ, perfect, savior-king, had to learn something as basic to holy living as obedience to God, and to do so by encountering personal difficulty, but it is so (Heb 5:8). Through Jesus, God sought also to distinguish the being of humanness from sinfulness, that is, to establish that being human is not in itself a woeful thing; on the contrary, Jesus proved that it was to this race of peculiar beings that God has affirmed his complete favor and ultimate identification. Continue reading “Another Call to Suffering.”
Have you noticed how the spirit of the age seeks to invade our hearts, our lives?
I have heard this in the past, and I am beginning to see it, that the real fight in this realm is between Satan and God’s people. All the rest of the self important activity is flowing into the Abyss. And the tide of evil rises.
The whole world lies in the power of the evil one – all those who are not in Christ. At the same time, many who are in Christ are giving the evil one advantage. We must be careful not to do this. Give us wisdom to avoid this trap Lord. Continue reading “resisting the tide”