Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Back to the basics

I'm reading a lot lately about why the church is dying. One article declares 'we are not meeting the needs of the Millennials' and another proclaims our irrelevance to the culture around us.  It seems there are more reasons for this problem than we could fix.  If we tried to do them all we would become even more irrelevant that we are proclaimed to be already.

So, what do we do?  For me it always goes back to the basics, the fundamentals.  What were we commanded to do?  That's where we must begin.  If we focus our attention on this generational change or that failure we will lose our way and get lost in pleasing a culture that is more fickle than it has ever been in the history of man.

Ok, the basics.  What are they and what does that mean to my life IF I claim I'm a follower of Christ?  That 'if' is crucial.  IF I claim I'm a Christian, a Christ follower, then I have instructions from Christ himself that frame who I am and how I live.  They are not suggestive, they are mandatory.  If I simply declare them irrelevant to our time and culture I'm declaring Christ irrelevant and his instructions as optional.  If we do that then let's find another religion.  This one is done.

So, as simply as I can, let me cover the basics.  Rather, let me ask Jesus to do that for us.  Ready?

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Love God, love people.  It comes back to the very essence of what God has made us to be and do- We were made for love, to give it and receive it. 
When I sense I’m loved I draw in closer to the lover.  We all long for love, real love that loves us even when the lover really knows us, knows what we are like and loves us anyway.
God loved us first and invites us into this lifestyle of being loved, loving him and others in response.  It’s the essence of all Christianity is about.  IF I know God loves me I’m drawn to him, changed by him and become like him in how I respond to others. I, too, begin to love.  When we get that right a world hungry for real love will be drawn to us, not the church first, but to the real Christ followers.  When they know they are loved then we can begin to talk about the real lover of our souls, God himself.
The gathering of a bunch of Christ followers loving well is called a church.  The reason we are losing our impact in our culture is we have lost our instruction manual.  It’s just one paragraph and when we do that well the perceived problems we are trying to fix will simply vanish.
Here’s our instruction manual-
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ And, Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Let’s get back to the basics.

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