Monday, July 30, 2012

Systems - III

I have read a number of post and articles recently that have started a number of thoughts percolating. I hope I can set them down clearly here.

Don’t expect me to cite them all. I don’t think I can even remember them all. And I probably couldn’t do it correctly anyway. Hopefully I can remember all the points. But it was other people’s thinking that started it all.

Some has listed and counted all the commands of Jesus. And someone else – to facilitate memorization, teaching and obedience of this large number of commands – has combined, sorted and summarized the list into seven commands.

Receive Christ – by faith, make a change of allegiance.
  • To baptize – lead people to make a public declaration of that change of allegiance in a specific type of ceremony. 
  • Worship/have communion – spend time focusing and celebrating the nature, character and deeds of God.
  • Pray – express you heart to God; invite him into each facet of life.
  • Love – sacrifice and serve for the benefit of others.
  • Give – provide resources to help others, ease suffering, and promote people’s welfare.
  • Make disciples – assist people to make the change of allegiance, to grow in character, and to understand and obey these commands.
Modern western churches have had various amounts of success in fulfilling these commands. Some individual churches have succeeded in some areas better than others. Some others, realizing that there has been failure in achieving overall obedience, have made passionate fervent calls to all Christians to get back to the basics, and complete God’s call on our lives. And some, hearing those calls, have launched forth to live in obedience: some with success, some with dismal failure, and some with discouragement and eventually giving up.

Generally, these calls to complete God’s work, and to live the God designed, are correct. They are true. But we have a thousand ears of history and a huge cultural mind-set to overcome.

Much of the western church labors under some false understanding. They believe that churches need professional leaders. And those professional leaders should perform all the work. All Christians should receive Christ, be baptized and gather to worship. All Christians should pray, give and love. But it is only the leaders who know enough to make disciples.

The Bible explicitly states that the process of making disciples involves teaching others to obey all the commands of Jesus. If we are disciples of Jesus, then this includes us; and it includes the process of making disciples.

The Bible explicitly states that leaders are supposed to equip followers of Jesus to minister. As a result of words and actions taken by leaders, followers of Jesus should:
  • Pray with increasing effect.
  • Live with greater generosity.
  • Be committed to people.
  • Participate in the process that promotes a change of allegiance in people, growth in character and obedience to God’s word.
It is God’s will that his people become a nation of priests. Each follower of Jesus is a representative of God to others in churches, neighborhoods, work places, schools, coffee shops and stores.

I have witnessed one person tell another person, “I think I should follow Jesus. How do I do that?” And the second person immediately turn to look for a leader to explain and pray with the first person. I have witnessed someone come to Jesus, chose to be baptized and arrangements by made for a time a leader could come to do the baptizing. (The command Jesus gave was not “to be baptized”; it was explicitly “to baptize.”)

Because of false gospels and false prophets, a clergy system was created to defend against errors and deception. This was man’s plan to defend the truth. God’s plan was to make everyone responsible for and experts in the truth.

We are all priests. Moreover, we are all high priests, because we are all allowed into the holy of holies. We can approach the unapproachable light. The Jewish high priest was allowed to enter the holy of holies once a year. We can enter it at any time.

We are all responsible for doing the priestly stuff. And either we have gotten used to spectating, and for some reason cannot get out of the rut. Or the leaders who should be doing the equipping, don’t realize they are equipping priests and all that that means.

UPDATE: The command to make disciples involves baptizing and teaching. The teaching involves obedience. So, in reality, it is probably a command both “to baptize” and “to be baptized.”

As priests, we promote a change of allegiance, accompanied by a public declaration of that new allegiance. As disciples, we need to understand and take steps of obedience – including this declaration.

No comments: