Friday, March 25, 2011

Flashback Friday: Where To Now?

This Flashback Friday is a little different. I'm pulling an excerpt from a previous post but expanding on it.

Before I started reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan, I was reading Mere Churchianity by Michael Spencer. Both are similar in theme: there's something wrong with the Church. For Michael, it is a lack of being "Jesus Shaped". For Francis, it is being lukewarm. I think both are right, but they have different solutions. Michael encourages to pursue Jesus whole-heartedly, even if that takes you away from you present church. Francis encourages us to fall madly in love with God and do something where we're at.

I'm not going to say one is wrong and one is right. I've come to learn that each of us has our own circumstances that require a response unique to our own walk with Christ. But I do have an observation. I think Revelation 3:20 is one of the most misused verses in the entire Bible. It is the foundation for salvation doctrine for many, though it is written to believers. Michael Spencer somehow uses it to justify leaving your church to pursue Jesus. My excerpt:

It is worth noting that Jesus' condemnations of the Seven Churches in Asia found in Revelation came only a generation after Jesus' death. In other words, it didn't take long for these early churches to become "church-shaped" instead of Jesus-shaped. Michael reminds us of Revelation 3:20, "I stand at the door and knock..." The implication is that for our churches to return to being Jesus-shaped, we need to invite Jesus back in as the focus of our church. Ironically, Michael follows up with the admonition to "pursue Jesus-shaped spirituality [that] won't take you to a building with a sign out front." (pg 210) In other words, "go and do" to seek Jesus-shaped spirituality. However, I think the lesson we can draw from Revelation is instead to "stay and invite" Jesus in to where we are. That may be too passive, and I see Michael's point, but I think Jesus-shaped spirituality is not a matter of going to find Jesus, but of inviting Jesus in. You could argue that the former is divisive and rebellious in the context of organized religion while the latter is individualized and subjective.

Francis Chan, focusing as he does on the lukewarm passage in verse 16, makes the appropriate (by my reading) interpretation by connecting the problem (lukewarmness) with the solution (inviting Jesus in). The important thing to remember, according to Francis in Chapter 6, is that we cannot overcome our lukewarmness through effort. We can't try harder, or we will burn out. Instead, we need to remember our first love (Rev 2:4-5).

I'll have more on this Monday before my Crazy Love group discusses Chapter 6. Stay tuned...


Duane Scott said...

If you're reading Mere Christianity, you should join the book club I'm doing each wednesday on that book. :)

Fatha Frank said...

Duane, I need to read it. I need a different perspective to counterbalance the contemporary authors I've been reading. But I won't commit not knowing if I can keep up. I'll be sure to stop in though.