What’s a church without Jesus? It’s a fair question. And most people would respond that it wouldn’t be very Christian. Apparently, there is a movement afoot in some Christian congregations to diminish the prominence of Jesus. The rationale is that it allows groups to become more palatable to non-believers who have a negative perception of Christianity. Now, I freely admit that people have a negative perception of Christians. We’re all sinners in one way or another and guaranteed to let each other down. And Christians have a great track record of that, the Crusades, the Great Inquisition, colonization of indigenous people, etc. But I ask, is removing Jesus going to make a congregation more appealing?
When you take a survey of world religions, it is easy to see what sets Christianity apart. It is Jesus. Other religions require action to attain salvation or redemption. You have to do something, adhere to certain rules, follow certain precepts. In Christianity, it is the opposite. The redemption comes first through Jesus Christ. The good works then flow out as gratitude for the love that God has freely given. Why would you avoid that beautiful distinction? Why would you not put Jesus out front and let the good works follow?
Think of it this way. Some of us were given the ability to paint, to sing, to build things, to organize, to teach, to write, to encourage, and so much more. Whatever your gift is, when you get to use it, you are at your best, right?!? I know I am.
Well, God gave the church the gift of Jesus. Why would they not share their best gift when it allows them to be their best?
Whatever gift you have, be proud of it! Use it! Share it!
So this is one of my more boldly theological pieces. It is also my first reflection from Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. Bishop Schnase writes that some churches have removed Jesus from their worship services. He in turn argues that for a church to be fruitful, vibrant, and growing they must practice Christ-centered Passionate Worship.
I also understand that I made some very sweeping generalizations and suppositions. I chose to do so in an effort to keep it succinct and get to the encouraging part. If you have comments or questions, please share. I encourage lots of dialogue on this very thought-provoking topic!