I recently finished reading a book titled Follow by Floyd McClung. The author has served as a missionary church planter in Afghanistan, Amsterdam, America and now South Africa. While I may not be precisely in line with him on all points of doctrine, I found his book both edifying and convicting, challenging and encouraging. Brother McClung is serious about following Jesus and making followers of Jesus!
To peak your interest, I wanted to post a lengthy quote here, taken from Chapter 11, “A Committed Community.” These words challenged me. They’re worth pondering in light of the absolute truth of Scripture:
Jesus did not die on the cross to empower a hierarchical system of religious duties . . . Jesus came to unleash an irresistible revolution on the earth, not a predictable new religion.
Most churches are boring! They promote conformity, the exact opposite of what Jesus stood for. We are called to nonconformity. It is sad that church and conformity go together in most people’s minds: Wear ‘decent’ clothes, worship in a ‘respectful’ manner, and believe ‘balanced’ doctrine. Boring! When church takes the edge off being radical and the risk out of the adventure of following Jesus, church has died. It is no longer the irresistible revolution Jesus intended it to be.
This raises the question about the purpose of any form of church that does not call people to radical obedience. The Bible challenges the anemic idea people have of ‘fellowship,’ or ‘hanging out,’ or worse, being part of a weekly ‘home group’ that has no vision beyond itself. If you are part of a small group, by whatever name you call it, and you are not committed to personal, radical nonconformity, transparency, and obedience to Jesus’ commands to love the poor and lost, you are playacting at church. The Bible present church as familylike communities of people deeply committed to loving God passionately and loving one another with ruthless honesty – as they empower and encourage one another to live their lives for the poor and broken. When we read Acts, we don’t find people gathering in cozy home groups to merely ‘support one another,’ or just ‘hang out’ as many postmoderns try to do. We find the disciples of Jesus in Acts sharing their lives and a revolutionary commitment to the cause of the gospel.
The first disciples did not just attend meetings that they tried to ‘juggle’ or ‘fit’ into their busy schedules; gospel intentionality was their life. They didn’t try to ‘apply’ the teaching of Jesus to their lives; His teaching was their life. Christian community was the very center of their lives because they knew it was the center of God’s purposes on the earth.
Wow. God forgive us for what we’ve made it. I’ve got a lot of reforming work to do as a pastor. And we’ve got a lot of reforming work to do as a church. God give us the grace and ability to grow into a more radically committed community of Christ-followers. For Jesus’ glory. Amen.