Monday, February 21, 2011

Church the Way It Used to Be?

The other day I was traveling down the interstate here in the sunny South, and I saw a billboard that advertised a certain church that also had a Christian school. The sign proclaimed that this particular ministry was "Church and school the way it used to be." I got to thinking about this sign, and wondering what they meant.

Did they mean church the way it used to be when the American culture gave lip service to Christianity with blue laws and other vestiges of Christendom? Maybe they longed for the days when some churches in the South defended racism with Scripture proof-texts. How about going back to the days when the differences between churches were enough to start a war? Or perhaps, the folks in this church wanted to go all the way back to the first century, when churches argued over which teacher to follow, or treated the poor in their congregation with disrespect.

It doesn't really matter what they meant by "church the way it used to be." We are not living in any point of time during the last 2000 years. We are living today, in the 21st Century. While human nature is still basically the same, there are so many things that have changed. While some of us would like to be able to gather daily with the church as they did in the early church, that may be impossible today. Attitudes toward the church in America have changed in the last 50 or 60 years, so a different approach is necessary. In other parts of the world, the church faces an entirely different set of challenges. Their "good old days" may be a time when there was no church in that land. Should they long to go back to that?

Instead of looking back to an imagined time when "things were better," and striving to get those days back, we should be looking for ways to be followers of Jesus in the time and place we are in. Although I can think of one way we can do things the way they used to be done, or at least should have been done all along. The first command that Jesus gave his church was to love one another as he loved us. That command has never changed.

4 comments:

Jake Belder said...

Why is American culture so polarized over everything? It's either one or the other. In this case, it's either a church that operates with a 'golden age' historiography, or a church that is always looking for the next best thing, the hippest new strategy. Whatever happened to just being faithful?

Dan Allen said...

Gotta love those good ol' days when you could beat your wife for stepping out of line!

Kansas Bob said...

My good old religious days were not that great. Good riddens to them.

co_heir said...

Jake, I think for most it's more important to be "right" than it is to be faithful.

Dan, and she couldn't hit back. :)

Bob, my "good old days" in the church weren't all that good either.

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