Why are you here today?

Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations.

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” Matthew 28:16-20

Make disciples of all nations.

Good Christians that we are, we all obey. So we fund missionaries. Generally the nations with big smiles of gratitude – they are much more photo-friendly for the “what are we getting for our money” back home.

Make disciples of all nations.

Over the centuries and millennia there have been different styles of making disciples. Most of them “brutal” both physically and spiritually. And making disciples became ”saving people”. And that gave the church a bad name, and religion, and God.

So what might the differences be – and why have we chosen “saving” rather than “disciples”?

One: Saving is an act in the moment. Making disciples is relationship over time. Jesus knew the difference. Which is why He did not say “go and save all nations.” Therefore, I am going off the concept of saving people as the “end result”. And I am going off “saving people” even as part of the process. In fact, I think I am going off “saving” anyone at all. I do not save. And I am beginning to think that none of us “save” because –

Two: “No one comes to the Father but through me” Jesus said. Seems pretty clear. Jesus does that – that is “saving”. Jesus does that – not me. So just what is my “job” in following that commandment of “making disciples of all nations”? Well what about someone coming to love Jesus. Can I do that by how I live, love and breathe all day every day? Yes, I can do that. And if someone “finds Jesus” through me … then the heavy lifting is between them and God Soft Hands Jesus when it comes to the “saving” because –

Three: There is another commandment we seem to forget in the “action packed arena” of saving people:
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”” Matthew 22:37-39
So which commandment are we fulfilling when we “save people”? And are we fulfilling one and not the other? Because when we pick and choose the commands we fulfil – is that not when we “save people” rather than “make disciples of all nations”?

Which brings me to another thought: whether the act of “saving someone” requires validation from/for the saviour/savee – validation that the savee remains “saved” – and that the saviour did indeed “save”. Which makes me ponder … Is that is why “going to church every week” has become another “law”? Because without that weekly validation – if the “savees” did not show – then all this “saving people” would be pointless, wouldn’t it … ?

“I saved that fella down the road this week, praise the Lord!”
Where is he?
“Don’t know – can’t see him.”
So is he saved?
“He must be – he said he was – we prayed together.”
Well he should be here then!

+ – + – + – + – + – + – +

Someone gave me one simple question for all who believe we should go to church each week: “Why are you here today?”

Because I love church in all its forms and places and times and styles. But I refuse the “man-made law” as to where “church is” – or is not, of “what church is” – or is not, and “this is how we do church”. Because I must either conform or leave. And just what is it I am leaving?

For me that is the crux of all of this “pondering”.

That all too often “leaving a local church” (or staying) is confused with staying/leaving “Church as the body of Christ”.

And so often leaving “that local church” is simply trying to reconnect with the “Body of Christ” – the same God who saved “them”. And, whilst I understand that leaving a local church can be leaving the Body of Christ and even God Himself, so often that is not the case.

Yet all too often that is the judgement a “local church” will make of the leaver – and therein validating “fault” as being with the leaver, not with the “judgers” …

And that makes me sad (and just a little mad).

Am I missing something – or does that ignore the very “commandments of relationship” we all listen to and nod to and say “Amen” to (for another week)?

+ – + – + – + – + – + – +

Oddly (at least to me) – this whole post bubbled up from another bunch of verses. Verses without commands, or orders, or the “Great Commission” – it was just a conversation between Jesus and His own disciples – it was just a conversation between GSHJ and me:

“He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” John 6:65-66

And the reason for them voting with their feet?

“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”” verse 60

Jesus was already “making disciples” long before He commanded us to make disciples. And – even as he was making disciples – He left them with their own choices. Of what they believed, how they lived – whether or not they even followed Him at all.

Which prompted the rest …

That “saving” people flips all of this “God stuff” on its head. That it puts “us” where God should be … and that it puts “savees” where WE think THEY should be: in church on Sunday validating saviours and savees in gratitude for the “saving process”. Because just who is the “saviour” in all this validation?

All of which brought me to the question as you “prepare for church” (whatever that really means) …

“Why will you be “here” today?”


10 thoughts on “Why are you here today?

  1. You know, these thoughts that have been swirling in my brain about church have been relentless. I am so with you on everything. Here’s my question. How do we reach out physically? How do we make people feel part of without a touch, a hug, something? I’m not talking about “attending” church, I’m talking about being church, community, church homes etc. For me, up until about five or so months ago, I felt alone in my “church” experience- not saying that people weren’t nice or cordial to me- in fact the opposite. People at my last church were lovely. But it was songs, sermon and see ya!!! (ohhh Holy Spirit that’s good! lol). Since I’ve been to the church God led me too, it’s been the first time in my walk with Him (a little over two years) that I actually FEEL community, both in mass and outside of it. I get a lot of hugs and I love you’s. I go to a bible study at my parish (but filled with all denominations of Christians) run by a Deacon (who is the closest thing to acting like Jesus I have ever met) who’s motto (not announced but felt) is ALL ARE WELCOME, come sit and pray, be with us.
    For my conditional baptism, my whole bible study class which I had just joined, showed up (all 30 or so of them), had a party for me afterwards. Nobody said wow you know your doctrine so well, or wow what a bible scholar you are. They all just hugged me and said, we’re so glad you’re here.
    I don’t know if God will move me again, nobody knows that. But I can say the physical hugs feel good, so good, the love, it pours out of them. People need that, we need that to feel and know we’re loved, and not conditionally!!! I think this is what I’m getting at (sorry the long winded trial lawyer). The problem in the churches is the conditional love we receive. Even out here in our bloggy church, I am conditionally loved depending on my post. Talk about biblical things? A certain group of people loves me. Talk about my love for veiling or mass? Oh no, they definitely can’t love me then. It’s not o.k. to love me anymore.
    Why do people do that? Why can’t they love me all the time? Jesus, He loved with His whole being, not some of it or based on your theology or doctrine. Do you love me? Do you love you neighbor? Do you love love love? Then leave everything behind and follow me… He was holistic, organic, agape all accepting, all loving, ALWAYS.
    How do we break these lines that are denominations? How do we cross over boundaries? How do we disciple people when their way is the only way? I thought Jesus’s way was the only way?
    Just my thoughts.
    End opening statement.

    • Would counsel approach the bench? 🙂

      I wonder if the case you present here today has one relevant issue to consider further. And that is “discernment” – in all its varied forms unique to each. Too often I used to discern, and then apologise. Sorry Lord, must have heard you wrong …
      Only to find I had heard right, it was simply “right” seemed wrong at the time.
      Why not universally loved? How do we …. ?
      One heart at a time I think. Real hugs are cool. But His hugs are even cooler! And something I am learning …
      I can give and receive hugs with my eyes, a word, a comment, a phone call, a text message, even a shared silence. I love ((hugs)) – but a hug without connection … ? A hug of convention? No thanks.

      Susan wrote a wonderful piece today. One line stood out for me: From heart to mind to word to deed.
      First my heart, then my mind, and my words will be gentler, and my deeds will be involuntarily “voluntarily”.

      You mentioned a deacon. Sounds to me like he is that line from Susan. Sounds like your group is that same line.

      How do we …. ? My dear learned friend for the defence … Might you have answered your own question? 🙂

      • Yes, love to bounce things around the universe, like a boomerang you know? Love to hear what people have to say, love to think, love to open definitions and interact with people who love Jesus and whose minds are open. Open to whatever He has, whenever he has it. I am still quite frustrated out here in blogoland. When will people get “it?” It being love, love, love. Why is this so hard for us to understand. Did everyone miss the part where Jesus talked about the two most important commandments? When did we become like this, its maddening really! It’s like a scripture war out here, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours! Why don’t we just fall in love with Him and let Him invade our soul! Ughhhh… sorry.

      • I believe we should pray Melissa to God and ask him to unite these denominations as one body and one mind. not my doctrine is better than yours. All apprehension laid aside and just love. I have seen five different denominations in my community to begin to meet and pray with one accourd since beginning to pray in obedience to the Holy Spirit five or six years ago. All glory to God. Only to find out that others were praying for the same thing. God is truly sneaky.He has his own agenda I am just a pawn.loved ,adored and pleasing but still a pawn..

        Here is another thought about church.The building. It never ceases to amaze me how many folks are so happy I come and think I am very wise. Makes me feel great because a while bunch of then rub me sometimes, because that’s what Satan wants me to think.Truth is some do. How much of that is my issue. Also I find that some folks in church are so precious and encouraging. I love being around them. Here is were I take it all to. I am highly valued by the Lord.He redeemed me and paid a price for me. Jesus uses me to reach folks and love folks. One of His hardest mission field is the church.The building. Although that field is not limited to that building. It takes a mighty man or woman of God to stand where he puts them. God will supply all we need. There are plenty of struggling Luke warm Christians in church. Their are also many newer Christians there looking for Jesus. Well they will only see them in a few mighty warriors for Christ. My motto given to me from the Holy Spirit is keep your eyes on me. I love all of you so much.Be strong and courageous.God needs you to reach this world. You know the irorny of it is sometimes the only one that knows what you are doing is God. That’s ask that counts.

        Much love Tom

    • Melissa, I read and reread this several times, and then went back and reread one of my old blogs (Jan 2014). Because I need touch, and because I live alone, it’s one of the reasons I still attended the brick-and-mortar church. It was how I tangibly held Jesus. It’s funny how my needs and point of view have changed in only 20 months.

      a) I’ve come to realize those hugs were more about me than about Jesus. I can feel him tangibly anytime I’m alone with him – MORE when I’m alone with him. I wasn’t seeking connection to Jesus; I was seeking connection to my church, and unfortunately, that never really came.

      b) We already are church. You, me, Paul, Don, Tom, etc… We are church because we shine the light and love of Jesus upon each other. We connect with each other. We uplift each other. Our words come from love and compassion and acceptance and unconditional welcome.

      c) I believe with all my heart we are supposed to bring this connection and unconditional welcome to others in this very same way. I believe we have been chosen to be together in this Church Set Free endeavor in order spread the gospel of love, grace and mercy farther than our own blogs. Like blowing feathers into the wind.

      I have felt hugs from Paul. I have felt hugs from you. And we have been no closer physically than our own keyboards. And the Spirit will equip us to do this for other people who need them.

      Strangely, we cannot worry about those who do not love; we must GIVE them over FOR God to transform. We don’t have the power to do that. We only have the power to love them, too. And pray they will open their hearts to our redeeming God sooner than later.

      • Lots to think about with this, I am stirring of course. My mind sometimes is a dangerous place 🙂 I don’t know whether I need a break from my own personal blog or need to write more, the tale of two extremes. Gonna ponder for awhile…

  2. As I’m reading this on a Sunday morning in Kansas, rather than on my way to the church we attend in Missouri, I think, once again, about the relationship with my Jesus….. I think where we fail in “church” is relating to one another. It’s a struggle and a big effort to relate to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – it’s on going. It’s daily. And so it must be in all relationships. He wants to hang out with us. I want to hang out with Him. It
    s the same with His body – I want to hang out with them – personally. We happen to have a pastor who conveys the Word of God very well – but that cannot be our only “relating” to the church. It can’t. So, we personally, are making an effort to find those of “kindred spirit” and are beginning relationships with them.
    The beat goes on……
    cate 😀

    • Cate, thank you. It struck me reading the verses today just how many “went home”. Did they all undo all they had been given walking a short time with Jesus? Did they become who they were before? I haven’t the foggiest idea.

      Except that this “church” conundrum remains a challenge only so long as we slice and dice church as I see verses sliced and diced. That when we gather together face-to-face, in a building or not – whether we gather email-to-email, Skype-to-Skype, over the telephone, via podcast, video or live streaming … Whenever, wherever and however to connect with our Lord and each other – there is church.

      Locally? A few. Virtually? A few. Locally not in the building? A few. Locally via email … same.

      We have an extended family. Not all see eye to eye or are on the same wavelength. Some socialise more with some then others. Some meet for a reason, and meet a different some for fun. Some are older, some younger. Jesus moved in different circles in different ways and for different reasons. I wonder – because I did – whether we expect local church to provide all our needs. And if we did that with our own families – just how many disenchanted families would there be?

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