Posts Tagged ‘church’

separation_of_church_hateIt’s the Sabbath, Saturday morning, about 9:00 AM. Jesus is sitting with Matthew and Bartholomew at the Starbucks across from his old customhouse in downtown Capernaum. Jesus and Matthew are drinking espresso, Bart is drinking a tea.

Jesus: Matt, you headed to synagogue?

Matt: Nope. Unless you’re preaching.

Jesus: Not today. Next week I’m reading out of Isaiah.

Bart: That’ll be good.

Jesus: So, Matt, why are you not going to synagogue?

Matt: I’ve been. Seen enough.

Bart: But, Matt, you need to go to synagogue.

Jesus: Well, depends.

Bart: Every good Hebrew goes to synagogue…by definition.

Matt: It might should be that way, but it’s not.

Jesus: So, the reason you don’t go to synagogue is you’ve been?

Matt: Yep. When I went, I was judged, ridiculed, embarrassed, harassed and made to feel guilty and clueless. Swore I’d never go back again.

Bart: Well, that one must have been a bad synagogue. Others wouldn’t do that.

Matt: Nope. It’s that one, three doors down, on the left. And I’ve visited others. If heaven is full of people like that, I’m not interested.

Jesus: You are right, Matthew. The people who avoid synagogue are usually the ones who have been. Strangers will at least sample it.

Matt: Yep. The people who stay away from synagogue are staying away for a reason. And it’s not because they hate God or want to go to hell or are atheists. It’s because believers built a club a lot of people don’t feel comfortable joining. The synagogue isn’t about God or goodness or friendliness — it’s about who agrees with the leaders.

Jesus: That may be a bit harsh, but I can see where you’re coming from. But remember, you were a tax collector.

Matt: I sure remember. My dad helped in the Syrian uprising to get our customhouse, there, across the street. He fought for peace and worked hard. Better to have a good man collecting taxes for Caesar than a bad one, right?

Jesus: Right.

Bart: Now that you mention it. I’ve always kinda hated synagogue, too, but I’ve kept going because I thought I had to.

Jesus: Hmmm. You don’t have to go to a synagogue like that.

Matt: Bart, you know the old store over on baker’s street that has the big parking lot?

Bart: Sure.

Matt: We call it Crossroads. There’s a group of believers there who have been meeting for years now. My dad was with the original group. The place is packed with sinners and tax collectors and such. Everyone is welcome and we just have a good time learning from the Prophets. Jesus visited us a few years back and has preached more than once. That’s where I go on Sabbath. I work on the production team. We also hold two services on Sundays.

Bart: You’re talking about the place that has all the traffic problems on Saturday mornings?

Matt: Yep. Our goal is to lead others into a growing relationship with God. Regardless.

Bart: Regardless of what?

Matt: Regardless of anything. Plus, we have killer music.

Jesus: I’m going to walk over to the “real” synagogue this morning. I’ll be over at Crossroads tomorrow. Matt, Bart pay attention to what’s going on a Crossroads. I want the future church to be a place people want to return to.

Tr8: Be a person who welcomes all. Regardless. And join a church that loves others regardlessly.

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Jesus and Murphy (the non-disciple) are stopped at the Eastern or Golden Gate of Jerusalem. They just walked up the hill and stand looking at the gate. Today this is called the “Mercy Gate.”

Jesus (pointing to a large rock nearby): Murph, take a load off. Let’s rest.

Murphy: Sounds good to me, I have a wine skin, here, want a sip?

Jesus: Sure (sips). What do you think of those Pharisees coming up the hill?

Murphy: Which one?

Jesus (smiling): All of ’em.

Murphy: Hmmm. Hard to say. I have two ways of lookin’ at things.

Jesus: Tell me about it.

Murphy: If you’re talking about one Pharisee, I’ll withhold my judgment and try to be as gracious as I can. If you’re talking about the whole pack of ’em. I’m down hard on Phariseeing.

Jesus: What’s the difference?

Murphy: I’ve watched you a bit and you’re hell on institutions and gracious with most individuals.

Jesus (nodding): Hmm. I guess I can see where you’d get that.

Murphy: Yeah, you always shoot straight with the truth, but you always end up inviting folks to follow you — to join up.

Jesus: Murph, I’m glad you made this trip. You catch a lot some of the others miss.

Murphy: I’ve seen clouds from both sides now.

Jesus (smiling again): …yet still somehow, you don’t see clouds at all….

Murphy: That’s probly true. I love plenty of people in groups I hate. I even like people I don’t like. The Chief of the New Faith Tabernacle, Molar Wisenart, is a piece of work, but he takes good care of his family and is a veteran. He has things to answer for, but I can’t say as I hate him.

Jesus: You always surprise me Murphy. I’m not crazy about what’s going on with the Temple, leaders and Judaism in general, but I do love the people. I sometimes wish I was a mother hen and could take Jerusalem under my wing.

Murphy: And what about the Jerusalem Masonic Lodge?

Jesus: Same deal. Did you know Peter was a member of the Lodge in Capernaum?

Murphy: Seriously? There’y’go.

Jesus: Wait until you see a church. It’ll make your head swim for all the inconsistencies.

Murphy: Yeah?

Jesus: Yep. So-called ‘Christians’ will do sooo many stupid things in my name.

Murphy: I wouldn’t join any group that’d have me for a member.

Tr8: Know the difference between institutions and people. Institutionally, stand with integrity. Personally, love with graciousness.

Jesus sits at a table in the back of McCoy’s Irish Pub in Capernaum, near the docks. Peter, James and John are sitting with him. There’s a line of guys facing the table cuing up to interview for a job. Bumper is sitting at Jesus feet. Amy and John McCoy let Jesus and his disciples have the run of the pub because John used to be blind.

Peter (looking around): So, why is it we’re taking applications for disciples in John’s pub? Wouldn’t a booth in the agora or in front of the synagogue be better?

Jesus: The pub screens out undesirables.

Peter: But pubs are usually full of undesirables.

Jesus: Yep. We want disciples who are comfortable around undesirables. Plus, following me will make these guys undesirable in the long run. They need to get used to it.

James: Why 70? Seems like alot. We’ve been doing great with twelve. Seems like overkill.

Jesus: Two things: First, it’s symbolic. After Noah, it was assumed the world was repopulated by 70 nations. I’m sending a disciple to each one. Second, we’re laying the foundation for a world-wide church.  These guys will be like John the Baptist in the Wilderness. They’re going to proclaim my kingdom to the corners of the world.  We’ll be global within a handful of generations.

John: In that case, 70 doesn’t seem like enough.

Jesus: You, twelve, will follow them and will appreciate their lead work after the Temple falls.

James: Temple fall? You keep saying that.

Jesus (looking up): Yeah, the whole thing’s coming down in your lifetime. You’ll follow the 70 out into the world and proclaim my resurrection.

Peter (scratching his head): Could you go over all that again? It’s still foggy to me.

Jesus: Not now, work to do. Next!

Rich guy: Jesus, I’d follow you anywhere!

Jesus: Sounds good. Sell all you have, give it to the poor and I’ll send you to Norway.

Rich guy (Looking downfallen): Sell everything? Norway? I need to think about this.

Jesus: Next!

Philip: I’d like to be a disciple. As you know, I’ve been following you guys around for a while. I carried the wine at the wedding.

Jesus: How do you like my dog, Bumper?

Philip (scratching Bumper’s head): He seems a good dog. Golden retriever?

Jesus: No, mixed. Okay, I’ve seen your grace Philip. You sure you’re up for this? I’m going to send you to Japan.

Philip: You instruct. I follow.

Jesus: Meet us in the agora tomorrow morning at 7:00. Next!

Shem the Pharisee: I’m here about the discipleship training.

Jesus (looking up): Hmm. How do you like my dog?

Shem (looking askance): He looks okay, I suppose.

Jesus: Would you let him lick you?

Shem: Not unless you wanted me to be licked.

Jesus: You are a ‘Man of the Law’ but you’re gonna have to let grace overrule the law. Can you do that?

Shem: Yes. God wanted the Children of Abraham to become a Holy Priesthood, but we haven’t done that too well. I’m convinced you are the Hope of Israel and the world.

Jesus: You’ve answered well, Shem. How do you feel about Moscow? You’ll be doing lead work for Andrew.

Shem: I’m in.

Jesus: Okay, meet at the agora tomorrow morning at 7:00. Next!

Chainsaw: Love the Lord your God completely and your neighbor as yourself!

Jesus (smiling): Why do they call you Chainsaw?

Chainsaw: I used to wrestle professionally in Jericho. I’ve been doing Power Team shows at local synagogues.

Jesus: How’s that working out?

Chainsaw: We get through to alot of the kids, break bricks and stuff, but I’m wanting to do something deeper and more meaningful. I think God has a greater plan for me.

Jesus: What sort of plan?

Chainsaw: Ever heard of Mongolia? I read about it in a National Geographic at the dentist’s office. Well, I feel I should imitate your ministry with Mongolians.

Jesus (grinning and shaking Chainsaw’s hand): Meet us in the agora at 7:00 tomorrow morning. Next!

Thomas (wandering up to the table): You guys want another round?

Jesus: Sure. How ’bout you ‘Pillars of the Church?’

James: So, what’s going to happen with these guys?

Jesus: We’ll meet and send ’em out tomorrow. They’ll start spreading the Gospel and will come back and report to us. After my resurrection they’ll go back out with the rest of the story. It’ll transform the world.

The next guy steps up.

Morgan: I’m here about the disciple job. I helped you paint Widow Patel’s house last month.

Jesus: Oh, yeah! Hey, Morgan! Thomas! Thomas!

Thomas (bringing a fist of mugs): Yeah?

Jesus: Meet Morgan. He’s going to do lead work in India for you.

Thomas (questioningly, puts the mugs down and shakes Morgan’s hand): Uh. Hey, Morgan. What?

Jesus (smiling): Don’t worry, it’ll make sense later. You guys are going to be great friends.

John: So, what about us, Lord? Will we all have lead guys?

Jesus: You twelve will work on the Tribes of Israel first  — twelve, get it? — but later you’ll join these guys in the field. And yes, these guys will prepare the way for you. God has big plans for all of you.

 

Tr8: God has big plans for you, too. Release and go as he leads.

 

 

“Seriously, she can be so in-your-face. You should quit her and find a younger, smarter, and nicer bride.”

“W8 a minute, Geppetto, you’re sk8ing on thin eyes. You’re talkin’ about my future wife! Show some respect!”

While nobody has a clear definition of “Christian” (see last post), we do have a fairly clear idea of what “church” means. It’s where all the Christians get together to be separ8. The church IS full of screwed-up people, but it is the church. The body and bride of Christ.

It may not be perfect (yet), but its his. And he loves her.

We shouldn’t be ripping on the Bride of Christ, but AS the Bride of Christ we should concentr8 on Him. We may not be the spouse we should be, but we should be working on it IN the church, gathering, fellowship, ecclesia, or whatever.

The people on the outside of the church can gripe as they wish. However, they may be sk8ing on thin eyes–they don’t know what they’re seeing and run the risk of offending Christ. But, we, inside the church, should pay attention to those gripes because they indic8 how well we are being Christ’s bride.

There’s the tension again–we’re messed up, but divine. The church is redeemed and sinful. Today’s tr8 is keeping the good and bad tensions of the church balanced as we sk8 toward being more like Christ.

I’m not always pleased with the church, but I’m not displeased with being a part of it.

When the wedding finally comes, I don’t want to be outside griping about the bride.