Feb 17, 2022.
A theologian once said, “Modernism has not been particularly kind to Christianity.” Themes like the mystery of God has been forced into rational and logical constructs, which has not fit well. Another theme that has been underserved in this Reformation Era has been the nature of sin.
#JesusStories: In Mark 7 the religious leaders became frustrated because the disciples did not wash their hands rightly. When they confronted Jesus about it he excoriated them: “You are nothing but show-offs! You are good at rejecting God’s commands so that you can follow your own teachings!” (CEV). He went on to point out how they were actually teaching people to ignore caring for their elderly parents and instead divert those funds to the support of the temple. Wow! That was a beatdown I wish I could have witnessed. The pattern for life and worship God gave them had ballooned into 613 made-made laws by the time Jesus arrived on the scene, and these leaders were laboring under a burden of sin confusion, and Jesus would have none of it.
We humans are pretty good at turning wonderful downloads from heaven into rules and regulations. We do this so we can categorize and control our spirituality; we’d rather grab God than trust the God to grab us. It is a control thing. In recent centuries, we have done similar things as the Pharisee’s did. And we too are laboring under some sin confusion. Present practices have reduced sin and salvation to a choice. Now, I know Adam and Eve chose to eat from the forbidden tree, but does explain the full nature of sin? I am intrigued by what happened to Israel in the Negev desert when the snakes came out and bit the grumbling and faithless people. And then when Moses made an image of a snake and put it on a pole as God had directed. Anyone who looked at that image would be healed. This was a difficult day for the people of God. Yet, it was a divine metaphor that revealed how sin was like poison. Further, it revealed what the antidote would look like when it comes, which the world witnessed when Jesus was lifted upon the cross. On that day he became the antidote to rid the most elemental problem affecting this world – soul poison. Greed, lust, selfishness, fear, and dominating others are just a few of the poisons that destroys our lives, families, neighborhoods, cities, governments, and the world around us. However, the very mention of the name of Jesus releases the antidote to the poison that courses through the human soul. Amazing! To turn something as wondrous as that into a belief-system? No! To suggest that everyone must make a choice for Jesus before it goes to work in their lives? No! In fact, it is in our hands to dispense the antidote and start the process of recovery. People who are delirious in their soul-poison are not in much of a position to make these spiritual choices, are they?
A man in our family was bitten by a rattle snake 70 years ago. He laid in a field for over an hour in 90 degree heat, and by the time people found him he was in and out of consciousness. He was in no place to decide about antidote options and doses; the poison had rendered him incoherent. If a doctor had been there, seen his delirious state, he would have simply taken charge and administered the antidote. This is the nature of sin – it poisons us. This then, must be the nature of the Church – to freely dispense the antidote. Every time we speak of Jesus and tell his stories, the antidote goes to work. There might be a day when a sin-poisoned person starts to heal and can chose to welcome Jesus’ interventions, but before then it’s up to the Church to administer the antidote, and let Jesus go to work. To this we are called. The Church today needs a fresh vision of the poisonous and debilitating nature of sin. And then, we need a fresh vision of the powerful antidote that is in our hands – the Jesus Stories.
#DinnerChurchQuotes: The First Christians did not conquer Rome with swords and spears, but with tables. (Michael Frost) To which I would add: The first Christians did not conquer Rome with swords and spears, but the Jesus Stories at Jesus Tables.
#PracticalStuff: Is it time for you to set your team down and remind them of the power of the Jesus Stories? Just using the ‘Name of Jesus’ and telling his stories starts a work of redemption and healing in people you are eating beside. Press that truth into the hearts of your core team. Without it you are just a feed! With it you are the answer to the worst problems in your neighbors lives.
Blessings & Boldness,
Dr. Verlon and Melodee Fosner have led a multi-site Assemblies of God Dinner Church in Seattle, Washington since 1999 (www.CommunityDinners.com). In this decade when more churches in the U.S. are declining than thriving, and when ninety-six churches a week are closing, Verlon and Melodee sensed that a different way of doing church was needed for their 97-year old Seattle congregation. It soon became obvious that they were not the only ones in need of a different path. They joined the FX team in 2016 and founded the Dinner Church Collective. And then in 2019 founded the Dinner Church School of Leadership. There is a lot to be gained when church leaders begin to see open doors in the American landscape that they had previously overlooked. Therein lies the journey for those who will forge a new future for the American Church.