What's Said In Church...
Confined Within Cozy Chapels
My daughters were avid collectors of the Polly Pocket Village. These unique toys, assembled together, make up a miniature town complete with a summer cottage, a pizza parlor, a pet shop, a schoolhouse, a gourmet café, and much much more. If you care to follow a bright pink cobblestone road, around the corner of this village, one will come across a quaint English Tudor chapel. This particular chapel was decked with a lavender brick wall and topped with pink-shingled roof. When you arrive at the entryway you will notice that her doors are swung wide open. Outside the chapel walls, it bustled with activity. There were church members, no taller than a half inch, loitering around the front courtyard. Some of the patrons sat by a lone wooden bench while others stood chatting upon the white washed pebble entrance. As I observed all of this activity confined within the chapel grounds, I asked my daughters, “Where’s the pastor?” The oldest looked up at me and said, “He’s just a sticker Dad.” And the youngest adds, “He’s inside the chapel and stuck to the wall.”
If others outside the church do not see Christ as King and have not experienced his kingdom, it is probably because God’s people, like the pastor, are pasted in the wrong place. The makers of the Polly Pocket Village were definitely on to something. They intended to erase the gray, drab, and uninviting caricature of the traditional church. They spared no expense in sprucing up the entire structure and its surrounding grounds with every color the rainbow had to offer. But in spite of all the attractive fanciful colors displayed on the outside, the mystery of the kingdom of God can only be seen from the inside. According to one theologian, “It is like the colored windows of a church. If you go around the outside of the church, you see nothing but gray monochrome and cannot tell whether they are merely dirty, sooty panes or works of art. In other words, you are seeing them from the wrong perspective. But the moment you enter the nave of the church, the windows begin to shine and the whole story of salvation, captured in color, rises up before you.”[i]
From within the church we joyously make it known, “yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,” but sadly, what is said in the church stays in the church. These silent walls witness that all our songs, sermons, and prayers are still stuck within this structure. They remain printed in our hymnbooks, hoisted on our bright banners, displayed on our colored windows, and tacked on the Sunday bulletin board. Rather we ought to throw open our church doors and declare to all outside that God’s kingdom is near, that it is here, and that Jesus Christ will come riding on a white horse, with his name emblazoned on his robe and thigh: “King of kings and Lord of lords.”[ii] This realization makes all the difference in the way we live before the outside world in order to draw them to the beautiful mystery of the kingdom within our churches. Get unstuck from within your cozy chapels and church pews. Proclaim it in public and shout it out from the rooftops, “God is King!”
[i] Helmut Thielicke, Our Heavenly Father, 152.
[ii] Revelation 19:16.
© 2009, Gicky Soriano. All rights reserved.
Through chapters that focus on "reimagining" the Lord's Supper, the family of God, church unity and authority and submission, Viola, who doesn't believe in clergy, denominations or doctrinal statements, argues that most churches are set up like corporations, while those in the early church were overseen but not controlled by apostles.
In the foreword, Viola warns that offense could rise from readers with sacred loyalty to their churches. However, even though he presents what some might consider an extreme position, there are points anyone could glean when it comes to being members of the church -- institutional or not -- truly caring for and serving one another.
A scholar of the New Testament Church and a forerunner of modern Church renewal, Frank Viola casts his gaze back at the birth pangs of first century Christianity in The Untold Story of the New Testament Church. Using a 'you-are-there' approach, this epic volume gives readers a first-hand account of how the witness of Christ's testimony impacted the world. In the era right after the Day of Pentecost, the power of Holy Spirit prompted a massive harvest of souls yet a great persecution surged against those preaching Good News to the lost. Now, get up-close with apostles Paul, Peter and John and learn of their personal struggles to fight for the faith amidst a backdrop of in-house strife and foreign tyranny.
What would you do if you met someone you thought just might be one of Jesus original disciples still living in the 21st Century? That's Jake's dilemma as he meets a man who talks of Jesus as if he had known him, and whose way of living challenges everything Jake had previously known. So You Don t Want to Go To Church Anymore is Jake s compelling journal that chronicles thirteen conversations with his newfound friend over a four-year period and how those exchanges turn Jake's world upside-down. With his help, Jake faces his darkest fears, struggles through brutal circumstances and comes out on the other side in the joy and freedom he always dreamed was possible. If you're tired of just going through the motions of Christianity and want to mine the depths of what it really means to live deeply in Christ, you ll find Jake s story will give you hope for your own. This book probes the difficult questions and offers some far-reaching answers. It just might turn your world upside-down as well!
Today the book's classic truths have not changed. But the world we live in has. Christians in America have had their complacency shattered and their beliefs challenged. Around the world, the clash of world views has never been more strident. Before all of us, daily, are the realities of life and death, terror and hope, light and darkness, brokenness and healing. We cannot withdraw to the comfort of our sanctuaries...we must engage. For, if ever there was a time for Christians to be the Body of Christ in the world, it is now.
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