“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 25, NO. 3 & 4 – DID JESUS GET WHAT HE WANTED?
The reaction and answer to that question, if there is one, would be varied. On one hand, if Jesus is seen only as a necessary sacrifice for the world’s sins, then the answer would be yes. Jesus died so we could have eternal life. But is that all? Couldn’t that have been done without him teaching about God for three years? What about all his talk about “The kingdom of God is like…”? What about “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? What about the “Unless you do this you will not see the kingdom of heaven”?
On a Wednesday evening the class talked a little about how proper names in the Bible often carry with them a meaning. Since there are no capital letters in Greek, was Onesimus the slave’s name, or nickname, since the name means “useful”? In other words, when we hear or read what was written, do we hear and understand the same as they did? If the letter to the Galatians was read in every church in America on the same Sunday, and then “taught”, would it all be taught and understood the same? No.
When Jesus said he would build his church upon what Peter had said; did he get what he wanted? Did they hear “church” and then set out to develop the ecclesiastical structure we have? Is that what they heard Jesus say?
First of all, the meaning of the word “church” is not the meaning of the word Jesus used. The Greek word “ekklesia” means “the called out” or “the assembly” or “the congregation”, meaning in each form those who have come to assemble. Would it be safe to say the assembly was those who followed Jesus and what he taught?
The question is: Why would they assemble and why would Jesus say he would build his following on Peter’s statement that he was God’s Christ? It is obvious that what Peter and the others heard and thought was not what Jesus meant. What did Jesus mean? What is the kingdom of God? What did Jesus want to build?
If the foundation for the “building” was that he was God’s Christ, then he was more than a sacrifice for sin. Nowhere was the Messiah (Christ) seen only as a sacrifice. The Messiah was the one who would restore God’s will and way upon the earth. If Jesus is the Christ, then he will do what the Christ (Messiah) was to do, to bring God’s kingdom to reality on the earth. He did not start a new sect of Jews. He said he came to fulfill the law and to bring abundant life. He over and over taught the way God’s will could and should be done. Take a look at how many times he said, “The kingdom of God is like…” and then see what he taught it should be like. These were not lessons so we could all get to heaven. These are lessons that teach how God wants people to live and act.
There is also the idea of the coming judgment of God to finally bring total restoration to the earth; the “new heaven and new earth”. Those who were “called out” were to prepare others for that day and time, which is one of the meanings of “The kingdom of heaven is at hand”. This “waiting” caused some stress on those who had followed Jesus’ teaching. When will it come?
I am not a church historian, so don’t be upset if what I’m about to say has its rough spots. But it seems that in time, when the Messiah did not return as they had hoped, they were left with how to continue; how to be more permanent. More structure for permanence was seen as necessary. Remember, this was before the printing press. For centuries information was oral, and what was written was then read by someone who could read and write, sometimes called a scribe. The one who read out loud would then, when called for, add their own oral commentary. So the hearer was subject not only to the emphasis placed on the words by the reader, but also the reader’s understanding of what the writer meant.
This “waiting” for Christ’s return turned the thinking from temporary, to a more permanent view about Christianity. Structure became important, both in buildings, organization and hierarchy. The organized church was born. Was it supposed to happen that way? Was it the natural evolution of any group of people? Regardless, it happened.
For about fifty years or so there has been a movement toward the rejection of what is called “organized religion”. I’m not always sure what that means, but if I were asked I would say it’s the feeling that the organization has replaced the Christ. That the organization is more about doctrinal structure than people; that what Jesus wanted has been replaced with a self-interested, competitive, corporate business organization where profit is more important than people.
Is this true? Yes and no. Yes the “church” became more organized and structured, but that did not mean it lost all interest in doing and caring as Jesus had. Is the corruption and love of power what we focus on historically? Yes. But the real question is would the world have been better off if Christianity had faded away? Despite all the vivid spots and blemishes, in every age there were those who just wanted to be followers of Jesus, not church members.
The search for Christianity that is unencumbered with historical and ecclesiastical baggage is perhaps greater now than ever. But in some cases it seems novelty has become the new doctrine. In other cases it is the serious attempt to find the Christian life, not the Christian church as a sectarian organization.
Will such efforts fall in to the “this too shall pass”? Probably. But the process shows the hunger the “called out” have to find and be what Jesus wanted; followers and doers of what he taught rather than just “church” members.
It should be possible to look like a traditional church on the outside, but be an open, inclusive, caring, giving of oneself group of followers on the inside. If I can push a scripture a little, it is not what goes into a church that condemns it, but what comes out.
CONCERNS: Philip Pierce’s mother is having after surgery cancer treatment. Keith’s sister, Betty Billings is having some residual health problems. Sheila Robertson’s mother is in hospice care. Sheila will be traveling back and fourth during this time. Jenni Cullum was to be released from the hospital on Thursday. She may need to be in nursing care for awhile. Ruby Stahl, the mother of Alan Beach’s sister-in-law, is being treated for cancer. Remember to pray for Regan, a ten year old boy with brain cancer. Those dealing with cancer are Deana McRoy, Leena Bolin’s brother, Nick, Jim Hunter, Joni Beach’s mother, Connie Crites’ brother and Sharon and Billy. Remember also Ray Reiss, Alma Martin, Helen Nicklas, Ron Matney and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: JAN. 21-26
Monday: Exodus 1:15-2:10
Tuesday: Mark 1:16-34
Wednesday: Genesis 17:1-12
Thursday: Job 42:1-17
Friday: Luke 4:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 63:1-11
OUR DAILY BREAD: JAN. 28-FEB.1
Monday: John 10:1-18
Tuesday: Matthew 13:24-43
Wednesday: Psalm 90:1-17
Thursday: Luke 14:15-24
Friday: Amos 5:18-6:1
Saturday: Psalm 71:1-24
Today, January 20th is Super Sunday. This is a time of fellowship and food. Come and enjoy it!
STEERING COMMETTEE MEETING
There will be a steering committee meeting in the library after the Super Sunday meal. The new budget is ready for review.
ROANLD MCDONALD HOUSE
Several of our adults are fixing the evening meal at the Ronald McDonald House this evening. The next will be Wednesday evening, February 6. The teenagers, along with an adult or two will be cooking that night.
Wayne Phlegar is speaking today in Keith’s absence. Keith and Jo had to go to Alabama to take care of some important matters for his sister due to her health. They will be back next Friday evening.
NEW CLASS ON WEDNESDAY EVENING
Wayne Phlegar will start a new Wednesday evening study on forgiveness, developed and written by Max Lacado. The books may be available by next Wednesday. The Wednesday evening class has grown in the last year or so. Come, eat and study.
FROM HEALTH TALENTS
We have received the notes from two of our ABC students. These will be read publicly soon. We also have received the Health Talents Annual Report which always has interesting facts and good success stories about the work at the Ezell Clinic. There is also a picture of a young girl who had eye surgery that reminds us of how important our support is to this work and well as the work of Bread For A Hungry world.
The suggestion has been made that we place a membership directory on our website. It would be password protected .Not only would this be convenient for those with an internet connection on their cell phones, but it would allow us to upgrade and change the directory online, as well as in the bulletin. There would also be new hard copies. printed in a timely fashion as well.