Monday, January 30

Christianity is not important, but Christ is.

The Christian movement today has evolved from centuries of traditions, rites, creeds, and the occasional reformation or revival. Throughout each small or large change the Christian name takes on throughout history, only one aspect of it remains constant: “Exercising Christianity, in the formal institutional sense, is not important.” Well it is not important according to Jesus anyway.

Consider what constitutes the Christian religion. We have church, which is the foundation of any Christian life. Church includes singing and other kinds of worship, public prayer, the last supper, preaching, the offering of money to the church, and fellowship. Outside of that two hour Sunday ritual the Christian is let loose on the world, the Church requires nothing from him but only to encourage nice pious behaviour and to remain safe (so that he can attend church the following Sunday and give to the holy coffers).

All of this is nice, and if approached the right way can be useful for a spiritual person (especially prayer). However, if you look at what Christ taught throughout his life you see that his conception of the “fundamentals of Christianity” is the polar opposite. He told people that if they wanted to pray they should do it in private and not let anybody know about it, he never commanded anybody to attend church each week or to give money to some religious institutional body, and he certainly never asked for worship. In fact, in Luke 11:27-28 you see Jesus directing worship away from himself to people who have heard his word and have kept it.

I am not saying that any of this worship is wrong, just that according to Jesus it is all frivolous trivialities. It is nice to do but does not make you a good Christian (or even a good person) by performing it. What does make you a good Christian is what Christ essentially preached to the multitudes: love, tolerance, forgiveness, and non-violence. That is what marks a follower of Christ, not attending church or anything else. Jesus told his disciples that people shall know that they follow him by their love for one another; this is what is actually important. Love is what actually matters for the Christian, not any kind of religious hierarchy imposed upon them by supposedly “holier” men.

10 Comments:

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7:33 AM  
Blogger "The Professor" said...

Great post, I have just started to study some existential christianity, and I enjoy yout posts.
Keep up the good work!

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Annie said...

Dear Tim,

I can understand your frustration as I read through your comments throughout the blog, however I rely on one scripture that gives me rest. Mark 1:17: "Come after Me and be my disciples, and I WILL MAKE YOU..." I see He is in the business of making me into becoming whatever He chooses. There is a part of me that can only sin; that is the flesh, and there is a part of me that cannot sin; that is the Spirit of Christ in me. So I rely heavily on Him and rely on nothing of myself. It's not hard to live the Christian life, it's impossible.

Your fellow sojourner,

Annie

7:36 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

I guess my frustration is levelled at how Christianity these days tends to involve other people telling you what God wants you to be made into, not Jesus.

Im having trouble understanding what the rest of your comment meant. So the flesh is ourselves, and the spirit of Christ is some spiritual entity acting through us? And that is why you rely not on yourself for everything because you are a sinner, and can only rely on God to produce good in you?

Im not so sure about not relying on yourself for anything, people do have some degree of righteousness in them. I dont believe we are all incessantly wicked beings and require a God to possess our bodies in order to do what is good. And from that it follows that all goodness in this world is directly explainable to God, which sounds like pantheism or the doctrine of total depravity, both of which i can't accept.

Im also troubled about what that means to be a Christian. Being possessed by God in order to do good dosen't make us good people, but rather artificial and not even ourselves anymore. Maybe I misunderstood what you were saying? If so I apologise.

Could be a good topic to write about for my next post...

5:05 PM  
Blogger Luthsem said...

I think it is important to know that God created everything good and that includes humans but we must not overlook sin or the inclination of evil that is within all of us. The need for God's grace is essential. I think trust, dependence on God is essential.

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well put.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Brad said...

Can I ask you (Timothy) how you would define the role of the church with biblical refrences? Thanks and i really enjoyed your post, im really interested in this.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Hi brad,

The answer to your question is a complicated one, and unfortunately I am not knowledgeable enough to give you the scholarly response you are most likely looking for. Ultimately I think the church's role (if any) is to help individuals find God and follow Jesus.

For that reason I don't see the church as necessary if the individual feels he does not need it, and I’d argue that alot of churches around today would be working against this goal of following Jesus (the directives conflict often). The apostles formed the church, and I understand why they did, the early church needed it. I feel, however, that times have changed.

But I like the basic idea of a church, they can be very beneficial, and I'm currently looking for a church that I can love. What I don't agree with is the assertion that church constitutes a significant or necessary part of Christianity, because I believe Christianity lies in what you do in the everyday world, not on Sunday morning at church. Considering the state of alot of churches I’d also dare say there are a few people who might be better off without their church.

I’ll give you a better and more thought out answer sometime in the future, Uni has begun again so it might take awhile…

Cheers.

6:54 PM  
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