Sunday, February 04, 2018

The Warring Church

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Echo Church, Cincinnati

I'm preaching this morning at Redeemer on Mission and Outreach. This is our current focus.

To develop a Missional People, a people that moves out, rather than invests in being attractional.

To understand that followers of Jesus have joined The Revolution. If church doesn't feel and look like a revolutionary movement to you, then something is not right. It could be something in you that has lost its way.

When I became a follower of Jesus, the year was 1970. One of my campus ministry leaders handed me a book to read. It was by someone named Bill Bright. The title was Revolution Now


Now, not later?


We've been privileged to have Greg Boyd speak at Redeemer twice. Once, Greg was with us for an entire weekend. Greg talks a lot about the Real Jesus as a Revolutionary, and his followers as revolting against the kingdom-of-darkness-world-systems. A few years ago I was reading Tomas Sedlacek's Economics of Good and Evil. I emailed Greg the link to this book. I thought he would enjoy reading it. 

He responded with a book recommendation for me. Greg told that, next to the Bible, there is a book that has had great influence on him. It is Christian Anarchism, by Alexandre Christoyannopolis. I purchased it, opened to chapter one, and began reading "The Sermon on the Mount: A Manifesto for Christian Anarchism."

The sermon on the mount?


Christian anarchism is the belief that there is only one source of authority to which Christians are ultimately answerable—the authority of God as embodied in the teachings of Jesus.  (You DO know why Jesus was crucified, right? NOT for being a nice guy.)

That DOES sound like the sermon on the Mount. So I re-read, as if for the first time, Matthew chapters 5-7. Don't you know, Jesus is talking about a revolution?

I, as one of his followers, am a revolutionary. I am on a mission, empowered (anointed) by the Spirit of the Sovereign God. I am engaged in, as the gentle, bearded Eugene Peterson writes, a Subversive Spirituality

Peterson writes: 

"Most of us [pastors] are known by name only to our congregations and, except for ceremonial appearances at weddings, funerals, and bullroasts, are not in the public eye. 

In general, people treat us with respect, but we are not considered important in any social, cultural, or economic way. In parody we are usually treated as harmless innocents, in satire as shiftless parasites.

This is not what most of us had in mind when we signed on. We had not counted on anything either so benign or so marginal. The images forming our pastoral expectations had a good deal more fierceness to them: Moses' bearding the Pharaoh; Jeremiah with fire in his mouth; Peter swashbucklingly reckless as the lead apostle; Paul's careering through prison and ecstasy, shipwreck and kerygma. The kingdom of God in which we had apprenticed ourselves was presented to us as revolutionary, a dangerously unwelcome intruder in the Old Boy Club of thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers." (Peterson, "The Subversive Pastor")



The Bible seems to think we are in a war.

The Bible. Still on lists of the most feared, most banned books ever written. Why? Because it is a subversive document. Eric Metaxas writes

"In the meantime — unless you’re scared — you might put the Bible on your personal reading list. Find out why it scares the pantaloons off tyrants and dictators but has inspired others to change the world. It’s truly fascinating. If you’re not a dictator or tyrant, you’ve really got nothing to fear. But if you are, go ahead and be afraid. Be very, very afraid."

The Church.

The Real Church.

Revolutionary. Threatening. Anarchic. Feared. A Movement. Scary. Supplanting, Usurping, Overthrowing. Kingdom toppling. Subversive. Warring. 

My two subversive books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God