For many, the church is synonymous with irrelevancy: an archaic institution inhabited by pallid and wispy clerics, mumbling feathery platitudes to an audience of women, children, and the feeble of mind and body.
A Church is a group of people who have a new centre of life-the person of Jesus Christ. All of us have a center whether we realize it or not. It may be broken or corrupt, but we have a centre. Your life centre is the thing or the person to who you devote your time and energy, especially recreational energy or free time. The centre for most young people is the trinity of our age: sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
Because of the worldview of the non-believer, it is difficult for them to grasp the objective reality of Christ as a new centre. For the modern mind all matters of religion (and life) are subjective and pragmatic: if it works for you, it's ok, even if it does not have any objective reality, actual existence. That is because the modern "educated mind" has determined there can be no certainty concerning truth and to claim certainty is considered ignorant and bigoted. (Of course the modern mind is certain that there is no certainty-but I will pass on that lest I digress too far and turn this into a philosophy course!)
The notion that Christ is really, factually, objectively, alive and can make Himself known to hu-manity is considered by many as a neurosis or psychosis. The more kindly disposed consider all things religious to be based on psychological need (if there was not a god, weak people would create one for themselves out of their need) or (for the material determinist) the result of a "religion gene" which some of us possess and some do not. These are philosophical worldviews.
Science is wonderful. Scientism is not. Scientism is the worldview and belief system that all knowledge must be subject to the methods of science to be true knowledge; and furthermore, that the methods of science will ultimately bring us to a complete understanding of all things. It is an attempt to place every dimension of life under humanity's cognitive domain. Knowledge attained by any other means other than empirical science is not admitted as true.
Well, the true Church is the gathering of those who have discovered that He is indeed both true and alive. They have been apprehended, netted, caught, by Jesus Christ, and they will never be the same.
Bond & Placement
The anxiety of modern humanity is characterized in part by non-connectedness: non-connectedness to self, others, and God. The Church is divinely designed to meet the very primal need in human psychology for belongingness. A healthy church environment should provide individuals with:
- Personal identity-a sense of authentic self (Biblically defined)
- A place of "belongingness"- authenticity with others
- A sense of purpose: "What am I here for and what am I supposed to be doing?"
The secular seers and geniuses of previous generations promised a day when technological advances would result in more leisure time, releasing humanity into a life of greater ease and happiness. However, the future has become the present and science and technology has failed to deliver this Edenic promise. Depression is epidemic. Our children are drugged. An entire industry (some would say conspiracy!) of pharmaceutical companies psychiatrists, psychologists, self-help gurus, and life coaches has emerged attempting to relieve the gnawing inner pain of humanity, that a better washing machine is inadequate to address. If life is so good, why are we in so much pain? After we have had all the sex we can stand, spent all the money we can, and gone to so many concerts that our ear drums are blown out, at the end of the day, we are left with our selves. . . broken . . . and in pain.
When Christ pronounces over the sinner who believes: "I accept you," the fragmented, disinte-grated, and alienated self is bonded back together by the love of God in a rush of amazing wonder. The "who am I" question is answered by Christ with: "You are mine and I call you by name." The metaphors of the old hymn writers are accurate: I find the haven of rest. I am His, and I am home.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.
Steve is the author of two books, 'The Word, the Spirit, and Prophecy' and 'The Silent Killers of Faith: Overcoming Performance-Based Religion and Legalism'. He also serves as Chaplain for the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 903.
View all articles by Stephen Crosby