Thursday, June 04, 2009

Flouresent Monkeys

I don't know if they really glow-in-the-dark, but it seems scientists have created a transgenic monkey. Apart from the usual ethical questions it is rather amazing what is being done these days. The unwrapping of the human genome is constantly changing how we see ourselves, and this has very powerful ramifications, some good and some not-so-good.

In his recent book, "So Beautiful," Leonard Sweet seeks to unwrap the DNA of the church. Sweet's thoughts are worth considering, and in many ways resonant with my own. For a number of years now I have wrestled with the question of who are we as the church, and what is our life to be like as those who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives?

One thing has become clear, just as in "making" transgenic glow-in-the-dark monkeys can yield positive results for the human race farther down the road, it can also open a Pandora's Box of unintended results. What is definitely called for is great and humble wisdom.

What the world sees as good and right is not always the case. And what can be said about the world can also be said about the church. In my sermon passage for this coming Sunday (John 12:1-11) we encounter Mary (the sister of Lazarus) pouring expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus. Some in the gathered group, namely Judas, see it as nothing but a waste of time and money. But, Jesus says that Mary has chosen the right thing to do. Mary has responded rightly to her Creator and has lived out that for which she was created, the total worship of the Lord.

This Sunday I am to not only preach about this encounter, but I am to share with the church the direction in which we believe the Lord is leading us as a local congregation. These are truly exciting days and we see God doing some amazing things in our midst and around the world (even more amazing than glow-in-the-dark primates), and yet we need to keep our eyes and heart focused, as did Mary, upon the primary mission which is the glory of God.

What is the DNA of the church? How are we to live out the lives we were created to live? As Leonard Sweet points out, the church, as God created it, is so beautiful. I encourage you to delve deep into the revealed mysteries of God and stand amazed at the beautiful work God has wrought. May we, as His Body, live forth as He designed for His glory.


Anonymous said...

Great passage, Randy. Your listeners are to be envied.

I've never heard of Mr. Sweet, so I hope that what I write will not contradict his findings and leave me looking like the fool that I am.

To me, I think the DNA of the church is located in Matthew 16. It's a familiar story, but in it, Jesus lays out the genome of the church for all to see. Jesus is sitting there with His disciples and He asks that big question, "Who do people say that I am?"

They all chime in with the typical answers that they've probably heard mumbled in the crowds, "John the Baptist, Elijah, a prophet, Tom from the car parts store downtown, etc." (OK, the Tom part was to see if you're reading this at all...)

Then Jesus made it more personal: "Who do YOU say I am?"

Then Peter (gotta love Peter) said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Boom. Peter just put it out there, didn't he? It's like he was saying, "Well, can't vouch for the others, but I think you're the long awaited Messiah. You're the Son of the living God. So there."

A public admission to an inward reality.

Jesus went on to commend Peter's forthrightness. "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

OK, that part where He says, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church" has been debated for centuries. Romanists claim that Jesus was referring to Peter being that rock upon which the church would be built, but I disagree.

The rock upon which the church was going to be built, that DNA to which we refer, is Peter's statement, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

It's just so simple. The church's foundation is anchored to such a simple phrase.

"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

(Sidenote: I don't, for a minute, point any fingers at FBC. I speak in generalities and to the Church as a whole.)

Simply put, it was put simply. The main object of the church is that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God." Too often we try to complicate the simplistic and bedrock principle of the church. It's never Jesus AND something else. It's never Jesus AND someONE else.

Ponder this: If the we decide that Jesus isn't enough to substantiate the church, or if we look to some other thing, be that a doctrine or dogma, a specific activity or gift or a person's charismatic personality to be the "rock" for the church, then that church will be vulnerable to the gates of hell. It will be washed away in the tide as a house built on sand. As it should be.

Harsh, I know.

That's why it's so important that everyone, not just "church leadership", takes an active and vigilant watch against anything that would try to "add to" or "subtract from" that DNA. To guard against anything that causes our eyes to veer from Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Tough questions need to be asked. Before programs or activities or sponsoring anything that goes on within the church or within its sphere of influence, people need to sit down and ask, "Does this alter, in any way, our statement that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God? Will our endorsing this ____ (fill in the blank) create a change in course that would jeopardize our ability to make our statement that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God with honesty and integrity?"

Sadly, many churches have traveled down dark and twisting roads that have so mutated their basic DNA that it is something unrecognizable from the original.

Thankfully, there is forgiveness. There is repentance. There is grace. There is a God that calls us back if we should find ourselves trying to play pick-up-sticks with the Chromosomes of Church.

Jesus has created a Bride for Himself. A perfect and beautiful Bride. and the DNA of that Bride is Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God.



Pastor Randy said...

Thanks Dan-o, nice to have you back, I thought maybe you got raptured and I was left behind, but alas you're still here.

Your words are true, we need to keep the means and the ends Jesus, He is the all and all, right?

I don't think Leonard Sweet would differ with your assessment, he would more ask the question of now that we know the DNA, how do we live that out and how do we pass it on. Stuff like that.

Thanks for your thoughts, they are always thought-full and welcome.

Blessings on you, Bro!

Dan said...

Nope, not raptured yet. :) Still waiting.

I guess I misread the question. If I wasn't so tired, I'd think something up, but I think I'll just wait for the next entry.

Keep up the good work, amigo!