After a long dry spell it is time to start posting again. This week I read an article in our weekly service that provided a great deal of insight. It was written by A.W. Tozer, a long-time pastor and writer in the Christian and Missionary Alliance church denomination. Published three days after his death of a heart attack, it is a reflection on what he perceived as the state of the church as of May, 1963.
My experiences classes about worship in Bible college and seminary, as well as experiences in different Christian churches echo his comments in most ways. I have already written about some of my own misgivings in previous posts (e.g. “Back to Basics” and “Mysticism, Evangelical Style“).
Linked here is the text that I read at that service, “The Waning Authority of Christ in the Churches.”
I have seen church “visions” that strongly resemble action plans I saw held up as examples of “growing churches” in worship and leadership classes in college and seminary. I even went so far as to tell one pastor that his “vision” was just a plan – and a plan that was doomed to diminish rather than grow his church. Unfortunately, he carried on anyway, and the church now has only a shadow of its former membership.
At least my seminary class on modern Evangelicalism discussed the issue of whether using practical (psychological) means to effect conversion and revival is warranted (without answering either way).
After reading Tozer’s article I recalled a passage from Colossians 1:15-18 about Jesus’ supremacy. Jesus is the God who made everything, including us! Not only has he given us everything that we are (our abilities, our life, our very being!), he also saved us from certain death by forgiving our sins, according to Colossians 2:9-15. In other words, Jesus Christ literally owns us, both by creation and by redemption.
And we owe him.
A.W. Tozer’s article reminds me to be very careful not to ascribe to Jesus Christ anything that is my own vision. He also reminds me to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Jesus promises that all the rest will be added to us. I suspect that this includes Jesus’ own direction in the affairs of our fellowship, as well as any other fellowship that puts Jesus’ Lordship into practice.
As I was wondering ever-so-eloquently about whether I really was letting Jesus control how I live my life I was stopped short by Wayne, who reminded me that even the jobs that we go to day-by-day may reflect Jesus’ lordship in our lives better than we think. (Yes, I do have a full-time day job.) So okay, maybe I am not a total failure at following Jesus as my Lord. But there is definitely room for improvement.
In the evening following the service my wife and I joined another member who had not been able to attend and filled her in on the service. Our conversation then moved to other matters, and eventually into a discussion of how the New Testament came to be collected as a “canonical” book containing gospels, early church history and letters.
That was such a fruitful discussion that the next post will be about the formation of the New Testament canon as we know it today.