Sunday, June 19, 2011

Of What Spirit is the Church "Code"? Second in a three part series

So how do we qualify the spirit of a group?

Examining the Code statements of the group in the previous post, and consider each separately against the scriptures.

1. We Are Known for What We Are For – We will speak vision and life over our people. We will lift up the salvation of Jesus rather than using our platform to condemn.

Nothing to take issue with here. Most of us Christians would agree and say something similar. It also appears fully in line with the revelation of Jesus.

Luke 9:54-56A
When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."

2. We Are Ruth's Chris, Not Golden Corral
– Simplicity enables excellence. We place a disproportionate value on creating a worship experience that boldly celebrates Jesus and attracts people far from God.

Likewise, most Christians would agree with attracting others by lifting up Jesus.

John 12:28-32

"Father, glorify Your name." Then a voice came out of heaven : "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered ; others were saying, "An angel has spoken to Him." Jesus answered and said, "This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. "Now judgment is upon this world ; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."

3. We Are United Under the Visionary – "church name" is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven. We will aggressively defend our unity and his vision.

Here, I would sound an alarm.

Ephesians 4:1-6

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling ; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

Oh, the dangers of lifting up the vision of one human as the vision of God for others! I am certain Pastor Steve is a fine guy, but he is just a man. The anointing is on Jesus--Christ means anointed--and as He dwells in the believer, so the anointing of God is on the believer. The anointing of God pours itself out on the righteousness of Jesus, and is therefore on each of us. To place maintaining unity on the "vision" of one man sounds good as long as it works--meaning the man is able to continue unify people around his continuing efforts. However, it begs the question of whether or not these people are unified in spirit, and in particular, are they unified in the Spirit of Christ? What unity do Christians find by declaring unity in spirit with a singular person?

Quite simply, the code as written is not in line with Ephesians 4 above. The revelation of the Word of God tells us to be unified in the Spirit of Christ not the leader's vision.

Most likely, the answer given by those who would recognize the above recorded code or something similar from their church is that the word choice is just semantics. Since Pastor Steve lifts up Jesus and is their leader, they are unified around Jesus.

I would contend there is a spiritual function associated with wording of the code that undercuts reliance on the Spirit of Christ. The power of group-think is hard to recognize inside of the group, but it is nonetheless real. Worded as is, what happens if one disagrees with anything Pastor Steve says? We are all subject to subjective emotional forces in the soul. We often adhere to a group's unwritten codes as a means of self-protection and self-justification. In a group that reinforces moral living, this force is not regarded as a bad influence. Yet, if Jesus is not the source of righteousness but merely one man's voice about Jesus, has something vitally important in the spirit of the group been sacrificed?

In part three, we will examine the remaining codes I highlighted in the original post.


postmodern redneck said...

The problem with "Codes" like that is that words are easy...walking the walk those words say you are going to walk is a lot harder. I am reminded of a church we attended back in the early '80s that had a "Membership Covenant" people had to agree to as a condition of membership. A few years later something came up that they wanted to do, they did it, and a few months later figured out they had violated their own Covenant.

A second problem is inherent in the professional clergy. Even in so-called "Spirit-filled" churches there is an implicit assumption that the pastor will hear the Holy Spirit and pass it on to his flock. Some pastors do accept the idea of hearing the Spirit from certain people they approve (all too often, their immediate circle or big contributors). All too many implicitly distrust the idea of the Spirit speaking to just anybody. (As for non-"Spirit-filled" churches, most of the ones I've seen pretty much behave as if there is no such thing as the Holy Spirit.) In my whole life--61 years--I've only seen one congregation that made any serious effort to teach ordinary members to hear the Holy Spirit themselves.

ded said...

Which begs the question: How do you teach someone to walk in the spirit?

postmodern redneck said...

David, the answer to that is in my last blog post at Postmodern Redneck here on Blogspot. About halfway through the post I had a paragraph about what they did: In the training for their prayer teams, who would pray for anyone who wished it after each service, they instructed us several times during the day not to start praying immediately, but to briefly pray for the Spirit to give us what to pray, and then listen for it. Then we could pray, after we heard from Him.

The advice I gave in that post about following the Spirit is simple: (1)Sit down (rather than rushing in to do things your own way) and (2) Shut up (because when you are talking you are not listening). Those two things are the biggest hurdles in learning to hear and follow the Holy Spirit. Once you hear from Him, then you can move and talk based on what He gives you. But most people are too busy doing and talking to listen to Him.

ded said...

I actually went back to your blog and reread that post right after I had written the question. Thanks for the update here.

I appreciated you checking here so regularly. You're a faithful guy!