Christianity is not a “system” of morality for the world to subscribe to. The principles of the Bible, and the teaching of Jesus are not intended to provide a “system” of religious/moral discipline apart from a relationship with God!
Some see the moral principles of Scripture as a divinely sent constraint within which man must live, in order to please God. But Jesus made clear that true spiritual life comes from a newly created life, a “born again” life that is created to interact directly with God, by His Spirit, through the gracious provision of life made available in Christ.
Jesus criticized the Pharisees, the religious leaders of his day, because they taught (enforced?) a system of moral adherence. Spirituality was reduced to an outward compliance, mostly to human traditions and ritual, rather than an inward life of the spirit. Jesus turned their approach upside down when he said he was the “vine”, and his followers were the “branches” who needed to “abide” in him in order to receive spiritual life. (John 15)
Christianity was begun as a movement of people living out the life of Christ in them, in community together, each person expressing the giftedness of the Spirit by the guidance of the apostle’s teaching, prayer and worship. But sadly, Christianity has become institutionalized as it ushers people into an organizational chart with church walls built around it, with the goal of training people to do the “right” things; e.g., go to church, tithe, “get involved”, etc. It becomes hard to discern the difference between those who truly live out the life of Christ, by the power of the Spirit, from those who simply change their habits.
An example of how this “plays out” is seen in the current tendency Christians have to address the political issues of the day, thinking their role is to inject “morality” into the culture. In fact, the Christian “calling” is to present the gospel, because only in it, is found the true liberation of the soul, and willingness to live by the high moral calling of God upon humanity. The church is losing it’s way because it promotes “morality” instead of the soul-transforming power of God. And so Christians feel the need to “speak out” when in fact they’re moralizing, as though that is the message of God to the world, when it isn’t at all.
What if the world did as the Christian church proclaims; it rejected homosexuality, confined marriage to a man and woman and rejected abortion? What if the world obeyed the precepts of Jesus? What we might have, is the world somewhat better morally “controlled”, but still not living the life of Christ in the power of the Spirit. And as a result, would not see true Christianity lived!
Everyone here at Maple Street Community Church needs help sometimes – just like everyone else in the world! The Bible assures us that help from God is always available. This is one of the most common themes in Scripture.
For example, Isaiah 41:10 reads, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Psalm 54:4 says, “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.”
We’re all familiar with the idea of God as a protector and helper, but how do you actually get his help? Is there anything specific you need to do, any works you need to perform? We believe that there’s nothing you can do to earn the blessing of the Christian life. The relationship we have with God is a gift of Grace.
So, how do we get help from God?
As it says in Psalm 34:17, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” Ask God for help when you need it, and help will reach you. The same thought is echoed in John 14:14: “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” Once you’ve done that, there’s nothing else to do. According to Mark 11:24: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Join us here at Maple Street Community Church and we’ll ask for help together.
People often talk about “attending” church. The truth is, people can “attend” but not truly be a part of the church at all. When attending an event, we go to a venue, a building. But a church isn’t a building. The Bible is clear: the people gathered is “the church”, not a building. Sitting in a pew doesn’t constitute being “in” church!
Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” In other words, when the people are gathered (wherever they are), they are the church, with Christ present among them. Church isn’t a place we attend; but rather a gathering of Christ-followers who are organically and spiritually connected to each other as brothers and sisters because of their common allegiance to Jesus.
When you “attend” a football game, you sit in the stands and watch the players play. When you “attend” a concert, you listen while the musicians perform. Church is not something we simply “attend”, to watch others perform.
In 1 Corinthians 12:12, the apostle Paul says, “…all the members of the body [the body of Christ, the church], though many, are one body…” In other words we are vitally connected to each other, not because we occupy the same pew on Sunday, but because we are placed into the gathering, the “church” with one another. And when we gather, we meet for ministry, for mutual edification and encouragement in the name of our Lord Jesus. Being a member of the “body”, the church, isn’t a passive process. We’re meant to be connected and involved with one another, not just members of an audience.