Our community, Jacob’s Well, just started a focus for the next 3 weeks today entitled, “The Elephant in the Room.” We figure to be a healthy community we need to openly and honestly deal with them from time to time. We don’t expect to all agree about them or to resolve them all, but they really do lose their negative power over us when we do this.This week was called “The Rules are Dead. ALL of Them.” It was about… rules! You know, all those things people think they have to, or wonder if they need to do to be “Good Christians.” My take is that Jesus made it pretty clear that it isn’t about the rules, it’s about relationships. Relationships that free us to be who we really are, but tie us with bonds of responsibility.
The service was pretty conversational. Thanks to a couple of people who helped me talk about this complicated topic, Melissa Lock and Thaddeus Lesiak, and all the people who shared texts for us to add their thoughts and questions about “good Christian” rules. Here are some of them:
The Y’s and N’s were to these 3 questions:
1. Is God a God of rules?
2. Is the church a church of rules?
3. Is Jacob’s Well a community of rules?
- 1. Y&N (God has expectations) 2. Some more than others. 3. N
- Y, Y & N 3. JW has Guidelines, not rules. 1. God have us 10 commandments which are our rules. 2. Traditional Church is littered with Man’s arbitrary rules to ensure order and compliance.
- Having to attend church on Sunday.
- Rule: Everything in the bible is real and I must follow all those rules. Question: isn’t that ridiculous?
- How can we know that our God is THE god?
- What does “no one comes to the Father but by me?” Not a rule?
- Do you have to give money to the church? They didn’t answer the question about giving money to the church. 🙂
- “Real Christians vote Republican” versus “Democrats know what Christ’s love is really about.” How do you address “us vs them” within Christianity? How do we connect?
- But do you need all of that to be a church… what if “church” wasn’t even just NOT having a building, but not gathering in conventional ways (with Sunday School programs, music, etc) but meeting out in the community on Sunday mornings and reaching out to the community, serving others as Jesus would, really experiencing what GOD is, who GOD is… is there a rule that you have to meet with music, a pastor to preach a message and Sunday School for kids – for us to be a church (isn’t a “church” defined differently in the bible – where one or more meet in my name – why do we have so many “rules” about what a valid “meeting” is).
- Answer the wallet question. We skipped it.
- Do you have to believe in God?
- Rule: to be a Christian you have to go to church, be kind, generous, and never say or do mean or selfish things, or make poor choices.
- Rule: You must read/know the Bible and pray regularly.
- I have a lot of questions! To be a Christian, you have to be ‘certain’, no doubt.
What great questions – so little time! Let’s keep talking.
I will start with the last one – what does “faith” look like if we are “certain?” It’s faith-building to have questions and follow them – I feel that is how I am learning to trust God and Jesus. So if being certain means having a deep down living trust in a generous, unconditionally loving God then maybe I am becoming more certain about that – but through the questions, not despite.
A few more messages that came in on Communication Cards:
– An elephant for me is…Is Jesus the only way to God? There are Bible verses that say that, but there are so many other religions. What does God do with all of those folks? I tend to believe that there are multiple ways to understand/”get to God”, but that is NOT what the Bible says…so…am I not a full Christian or one of those people who picks and chooses what I want to believe? I feel this is a huge barrier to getting closer to Christ, or how to read the Bible. [my note: This is the focus of the upcoming Sunday’s (11/17) Elephant discussion.]
– Melissa said sometimes it’s easier to just follow the rules. While I think giving should grow out of prayer and intention, I think it’s very helpful to have a spiritual discipline to money, and having a community that pushes people in that way – giving money – is a goal to strive for. For example, if one is giving 4% of their income – strive for 5%, etc.
Thanks again, everyone! Replies? Thoughts? More questions?
Found a few more that were on post-it notes:
– What if you believe Jesus is not the only son of God?
– Elephants [this list * is from one person]
*Prison inmates (what to do with them, death penalty?)
*Does following God require us to abandon free will view points?
– What does it mean to read/know the Bible/pray regularly?
– Us v Them in Christianity
– No doubt?
– Do you have to believe in God?
– Do we have to be here on Sunday? Valid meetings?
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