I very rarely get headaches. Spare me the joke, I’ve heard it….no brains, no headaches, I know. But they’re not a complete unknown to me, and I can usually trace their genesis to something – overwhelming pressure, a nagging fear, or the ever popular lack of coffee.
The church has a whopper of a headache coming on.
We don’t perceive it yet, but I’m telling you, I can see it on the horizon, and if we don’t make adjustments, the church is going to wake up with the most unholy of hangovers. What might be the cause? I’m going to save Barna the trouble and tell you now.
The greatest dilemma facing the church is the possibility that the Bible is true.
It’s not the threat of fallacy that will do us in, it’s the terror that comes with infallibility. That’s right. The greatest thing we have to fear is that the message we propose is an entirely accurate one.
Volumes have been written about the pursuit of authentic Christianity. With very few exceptions – in fact, none that I could cite of the top of my head – those volumes were written by well meaning people who were seeking truth where they could find it.
Our problem is not a lack of good intentions…but with our failure to consider that the Book means what it says at the simplest level.
What if true, authentic Christianity has nothing to do with small groups or vision statements? What if the holy grail wasn’t relevance to pop culture or even believable leadership? What if, upon darkening the door of heaven, the first angel you meet doesn’t ask anything about ‘how many are you running?’
What if James really was inspired by God when he wrote that pure, undefiled religion was to care for the widows and orphans? That verse is like poetry, isn’t it? We love the rhythm and meter of that phrase, but are we convinced of the accuracy? Because if it’s more than poetic….if it’s true….we’re jacked.
There is no magic formula for church growth, but there certainly is a biblical equation for church behavior, and true to the outward focus of Jesus, this one has little to do with our needs. The litmus test for purity of one’s expression of church is how that church treats widows and orphans – two groups of people who contribute little in the way of financial or relational equity.
James’ practical instruction is a solid steel extension of Jesus’ “when you’ve done it to the least of these….”.
Jesus laid down a principle. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, James took the principle and gave it names and faces.
Caring for the widows and orphans who can give nothing back…that is radical church theory. What on earth would church look like if we fully embraced that?
For once, the thundering voice of God joins the cry of an unbelieving world to ask the very same question.
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