About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Do We Go From Here – Part 3
The Reformation of the
1500's was a reaction to an oppressive Catholicism that stifled
individual thought and creativity. Church
kept individuals in a darkened state of ignorance.
They were denied Bibles because they were considered too stupid
to read one. A brutal
religious regime forced individuals to submit to church doctrine,
practice, and politics. Reformers
certainly had their flaws, but the steps they took towards individual
freedom to think laid the foundation for what the western world has
become. Nations that
embraced the Reformation have excelled in areas such as law, education,
finance, science, and government. When
the individual is free to excel a nation is free to excel.
The influence of Biblical
thought that the Reformation and subsequent Christian movements brought
to western culture has blessed church with the freedom to express itself
as it has seen fit. Some
expressions of church have been good; others not so good.
Whatever the case, church has been blessed, but church tends to
turn blessings that were meant to serve Jesus into blessings that serve
church. We're often
preoccupied with the blessings of the Lord instead of the Lord of the
blessings. We differ little from the Laodicean
When church adores itself
more than Jesus, church must repent.
Jesus often uses an oppressive anti-Christ culture to bring
church to its knees. The
western church is entering an era of purification.
It's being pressured to conform to our anti-Christ culture's
demands or else cease to exist in its present form.
Will we cave into the
demands to become a culturally correct church or will we be the counter
culture church Jesus spoke of in Matthew 16:18?
When Jesus said "I will build my church", the words
"my church" are in direct contrast to the Jewish apostate
church of the day. This is
why I call Jesus' church a counter culture church.
We don't have to look far
to see what a counter culture church looks like.
We see one in Iran
right now. We've seen one in
In 1978 I posed this
question to a Pentecostal church in a Sunday message.
"If this building and the regularly scheduled meetings held
in this building were taken from you, would you still have a
question is more relevant
today than it was back then. When
the visible expression of church as we've come to know it is taken from
us, will you have a place of mutual support and ministry?
Many of us are so dependent on the traditional church providing
fellowship and ministry on our behalf that when the traditional church
no longer exists, many will have neither fellowship nor ministry.
I think we misunderstand
Jesus when He said "I will build my church and the gates of Hades
will not prevail against it". Jesus
wasn't guaranteeing the survival of any particular expression of church.
Both the Bible and history shows us that any given expression of
church can come and go. Matthew
16:18 is a prophetic proclamation of a vibrant movement of people who
are networked together under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ who
stands in stark contrast to the culture of any given society.
If there is no contrast, there is no church.
Our western culture is
rapidly moving away from any Judeo Christian influence it once had. This
isn't likely to change. I
actually believe the present anti-Christian sentiment is God's will.
Therefore, we must respond to God's will in God's way.
Like the reformers, we must choose Christ over culture.
Like Christians in
I'm not proposing a
leaderless church. Church
structure should be based on personal and functional relationships
instead of an impersonal ecclesiastical hierarchy.
I'm also not being critical, negative, or lacking in faith that
Jesus can't build His church. I'm
being realistic, practical, and most of all Biblical.
I'm anticipating our future.
I'm joining others in preparing the way for Jesus' return by
proclaiming repentance and the coming of the
We can't afford to be
ignorant in this matter. In
light of our future, the next step church must take is to change our
present mindset about church. We
must begin to view church as a counter culture movement, a body of
believers, where individual relationships form the basis for both mutual
support and the specific work Jesus would have these relationships do.
Together we must form a network of disciples who stand in stark
contrast to the culture of our day.
We must prepare ourselves for the day when the outward trappings
of what we call church will be taken from us.
Finally, we must be willing to accept the unpleasant consequences
of being Jesus' counter culture church.
When it's all said and done, Jesus will have His church.
There's no doubt about that.