"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said,
'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.'" (John 8:31)
There were times when I was reading Mere Churchianity that I wished Michael Spencer was right there so I could rush up to him and give him a big hug and thank him for saying what needs to be said. Better yet, I wish he was still alive to preach this message that is lost on so many churches in the tapestry of American Christianity. There are many to whom I want to give this book once I'm done. If they're not interested in the book, I'll just point them to this chapter. If this book even mildly interests you, read this chapter if nothing else.
Chapter 8: Accepting the Real Jesus draws a line in the sand and I'm sure that line will make many uncomfortable. But we have to remember, this book isn't written for the Church, though it can learn from it, but is instead written to those who have left- physically or spiritually. The established church won't like what Michael has to say, and maybe many who have left looking for Jesus won't either, but Michael has to point towards the Jesus we all need to find. This Jesus, the complete Jesus, is not the pretty picture from Sunday school, nor is he a radical marketing ploy used by evangelical churches. We are not called to follow a church. We're not even called to be Christians. Instead we are called to be disciples of Jesus. What does that mean?
That means being Kingdom-minded. That means associating with the lowly. That means making disciples (not Christians, not pew-fillers). That means "Jesus Saves", not the church. That means changing the world.
A brother was sharing recently how he was reaching out at our local mall. He met a man who was attending seminary and was at that moment studying Greek. The conversation was started, "what is the difference between a Christian and a disciple?" The young scholar could not turn to his Greek lexicon or any of his former courses for an answer. He couldn't rely on any ministerial training. So he couldn't come up with an answer. I love my friend's response, "I'm not out here looking for people to go to church with me, I'm looking for people who want to be disciples of Jesus."
The Scripture above gives us an outline: Believe, hold, disciple. But there's an important word that makes us uncomfortable, that turns religiosity on its head: IF. Jesus didn't die so that there could be hundreds of churches all proclaiming his name but look nothing like one another. Jesus didn't die to produce generation after generation of Christians. Jesus died to usher in His Kingdom, occupied by His disciples. IF...