Sunday, September 18, 2011

My church is better than yours

Luke 9:46-50 NASB

An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest. But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great."

John answered and said, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us." But Jesus said to him, "Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you."

My thoughts -

You know, my church is awesome. In fact, you really ought to come by and visit. Our band is amazing. Our preacher is phenomenal. We've got a great Youth ministry, too. We do so much awesome stuff. We're really the best church I've ever been to. Seriously, you have no idea. You have to go there to understand just how awesome we are.

I have heard all of these statements and many more before. I have also believed these statements about my church. I have an excellent church home. I think Trinity Hill is a wonderful church and I am proud to be a member there. But I don't think you "have" to go there. Although if you are a really good guitarist, singer, bassist, keyboard player, a sax player who can play by ear, or a really good drummer than obviously I wish you would.

But I wonder about the line of thinking that a lot of us have about our churches. It is good to have a good church home and a good church family. But sometimes I wonder if we get a little too big headed about what we do.

The disciples here had that problem. First they argue amongst themselves about which of them was the greatest. Then they explained to Jesus about how they tried to stop a man from casting out demons in Jesus's name because he wasn't one of them.

Being in the presence of Jesus every day, as good as that was, must have gone to their heads. They puffed themselves up and fought inside and outside their group over power and authority.

"Who is the greatest?"

"This guy's not one of us so we told him to knock it off."

This way of thinking, this elitism, is anything but Christ-like, but it showed up in those who were closest to Christ. It shows up in our churches, too. We start to do some things well and it goes to our heads. All of the ministry we do in Jesus's name becomes about us. We brand ourselves. We protect our brand. We build up our buildings and congregations but not the Kingdom of God. We build our own kingdoms. And each one of them is the best. You just have to go there. You have no idea. You don't know what it's really like to worship until you've worshipped with us.

Jesus, of course, shut this line of thinking down among his disciples. He told them that to be the least is to be great. To accept a child, who was really regarded as less than fully human, was to accept him. In fact, you had to be like a child. He told them not to get big headed but to humble themselves. He told them not to interfere with what others were doing in his name. If others want to minister in Jesus's name what's it to them? Those that do that aren't against you, they're for you. We're all on the same team here.

It is my prayer that Jesus, who so emphatically shot down this elitist, entitled, selfish, egotistical spirit in his followers will do so again. Today and every day. We need it.

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